LIMA — Although last week’s heavy rains are long gone, the lawn in front of Shawn Maxwell and Eloisa Fox’s house on North West Street still has a lot of give, with the ground still nearly saturated with water.
“The sad part is that he loves to mow,” Fox said. “But we have to keep waiting until the ground dries.”
For many residents across from Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution between Bluelick Road and St. Clair Avenue, flooding has been an issue for years. In 1944, a drainage ditch was constructed just north of St. Clair Avenue, running parallel to North West Street before turning west just above Farmdale Avenue and eventually running into Pike Run.
A petition was made to the Allen County Engineer’s Office in June 1997 to address the drainage issues with this ditch, with a first hearing held that September. According to the Engineer’s website, the project was approved after its hearing and is in the surveying and preparation stage, with the most recent survey conducted last fall.
“One of the things we wanted to make sure we had intact first was Pike Run,” drainage engineer Douglass Degen said. “We wanted to make sure that was all clean and functioning fine before we proceeded with this.”
Surveyors found some 10 areas where some of the tile along the ditch has deteriorated, causing dirt to start filling in and creating blockages. Degen said that the simplest solution would be to replace all the tile in the ditch, a very expensive project. With homeowners responsible for the cost of construction, Degen was concerned that, due to the neighborhood’s low to moderate-income level, homeowners would not be able to absorb the cost.
To that end, Degen and the other engineers have been trying to create a “cost-effective project,” in which the areas with the dirt blockages would be repaired, while also creating detention ponds along Collingwood Boulevard and in the area behind the Jehovah’s Witness Hall, allowing water to drain at a more controlled rate.
“I’m hoping to have an early summer final hearing on this,” Degen said. “It’s not a difficult project, but we want to have all our ducks in a row.”
Should the project be approved, construction could start as early as this summer.