Munroe Falls -- Residents at the southern end of the city are tired of flooding in their neighborhoods and are letting city officials know it.
About 15 residents of an area bordered by Munroe Falls Avenue to the north, Route 91 to the city of Tallmadge to the south attended an Aug. 13 City Council general government services committee meeting, where the subject was discussed for about two hours.
"The responsibility for the creek and ditches is an issue we've never really addressed because we've never had flooding as bad as this summer," said Mayor Frank Larson, referring to a creek that flows through the area. "I guess the city is going to have to take up a more proactive maintenance of these areas."
The area saw flooding during at least one storm in July and again during a shower Aug. 8, much of it in yards.
Florence Boulevard resident John Mino said the previous week's downpour only lasted about 20 minutes, but waters in the creek near his home continued to rise for some time afterwards.
"If we get a storm warning, it will fill up," he said.
"I see it constantly getting worse every year," said Mino. "It has gone through half our yard a couple of times this year."
Barton Drive resident Randy Worthington said he has seen a difference between the way water in the creek flows through a culvert near his home now and the way it did during a major storm in 2003, when water would flow out of the north end under high pressure. During this summer's storms, by contrast, water comes out less forcefully while backing up at the south end.
"What would account for that?" he asked. "It's not explainable unless there's a restriction."
Councilor Bob Pitz said he has spoken with a number of property owners in the area who told him that conditions seem to have worsened over the last two years, particularly over the previous few weeks.
"I heard that over and over from people who have lived here 30, 40 years," said Pitz.
Fox Run Drive resident Anne Williams said she and her husband have cleaned debris out of their portion of the creek, but she believes this is the city's responsibility.
"We should not have to clean it out," she said, adding that the city has easements giving it the right to maintain the creek.
"You are our elected officials. You have to come up with a solution," she said.
Service Director John Bowery said he is not so certain about what easements the city has and he said the city would have to verify it before it could go on private property to examine the length of the creek.
"We need to know where we have easements," said Councilor Steve Stahl.
City officials say believe much of the water is coming from the east, specifically from drainage systems around the Heather Knoll Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Tallmadge, and Munroe Falls Metro Park east of that, as well as from soccer fields on land Tallmadge leases from Summit County.
"Basically, you had three rivers coming across 91," said Bowery, referring to recent storms. "Our stormwater system is not adequate to handle that flow."
Larson said the city has sent letters to Tallmadge in recent years expressing its concerns, but has not gotten anywhere. He also said that several years ago, when he saw plans for a detention basin at the Metro Park, he contacted the park system with the opinion it was not enough.
"The response I got was an engineer did it and he knows what he's doing," he said.
Tallmadge Mayor David Kline did not return calls seeking comment before press time.
In an email, Metro Parks spokesperson Nate Eppink wrote that the park system took great care controlling water flow.
"An independent engineer produced the plans for our storm water management/wetland detention basin," wrote Eppink. "Those plans were reviewed in advance by the city of Tallmadge and the Summit Soil and Water Conservation District. The development of the Tallmadge Meadows Area, which is located in Tallmadge but part of the larger Munroe Falls Metro Park, was done in cooperation and compliance with the City of Tallmadge. It opened in May 2011 and includes a pervious asphalt driveway and parking lot to limit runoff. The basin is sized appropriately, and to our knowledge it has never overflowed."
Tallmadge Meadows is the portion of the Metro Park closest to the residential area, with the driveway off Route 91, across from Northmoreland Avenue.
Pitz said he believes that before the city does anything, it should bring in outside help.
"We're not experts. You need to get experts," he said.
Williams, Fox Run resident Dr. Jeff Ciesla and Larson said they agree.
In the meantime, Stahl said the city would also contact county officials to see what help is available and urged residents to contact County Council with concerns because the "squeaky wheel gets the grease."
Bowery urged residents to call City Hall, at 330-688-7491, whenever they experience flooding because the data the city would collect would be invaluable.
"That helps us in the long run to get funding," he said.
Bowery said that whatever is ultimately done, it should not be piecemeal, but should take into account the entire stormwater system so that problems are not being transferred downstream.
"We need to look at this as one large project," he said. "What we don't want to do is what other people have done to us."
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