News and Tribune

January 28, 2014

Rising water, rising tensions with Jeffersonville residents

Council hears concerns of subdivisions' residents

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — Though weather may be the culprit behind problems in two different subdivisions, the problems the neighborhoods face couldn’t be different.

The Jeffersonville City Council heard from residents of Waverly Road and the Crystal Springs subdivisions Monday, and while the issue in Crystal Springs has recently become apparent, Waverly Road has been dealing with the same thing for years: flooding.

Karen Wigginton, the daughter of a Waverly Road resident, told the city council that the neighborhood has had issues for years with poor drainage, which has resulted in floods that has caused structural damage to homes in the neighborhood. And she said she blamed the council for failing to act.

“You need to do your jobs,” Wigginton said, as she showed image after image of high waters and debris-clogged drainage ditches. “These residents don’t want to have to see you in court.”

Wigginton said she had attempted to get the problem solved over the years through conversations with former mayors Tom Galligan and Rob Waiz, various city council members and current Mayor Mike Moore, who was present at the meeting. She said because of the constant threat of floods, the residents along Waverly Road had no peace of mind.

“This needs to stop,” she said.

Moore said that the city council is not to blame for the neighborhood’s problems, and instead said he’d take the blame. He said that the Jeffersonville Drainage Board recently voted at a December meeting to fix the problem.

“I made a promise to fix it, and I’m doing everything I can to fix your problem,” Moore told Wigginton.

City Engineer Andy Crouch told the council that he has consulted multiple engineers and solicited multiple opinions, and the best option is for the city to purchase four to six of the houses at the end of the road and use the land to locate a retention pond.

Moore said he would not force the individual homeowners to sell their homes, but said the drainage board would be interested in purchasing the properties from voluntary sellers. But the plan would only work if all agree to sell.

“You’re trying to make a larger hole,” Wigginton said.

Corporation attorney Les Merkley cautioned Moore and the council to take caution in discussing the subject with the threat of litigation looming.

Moore said letters would be sent to residents in the area, and that a neighborhood meeting will be held to discuss the issue directly with residents. A tentative date of Feb. 20 has been set for the meeting.

CRYSTAL SPRINGS

The Crystal Springs subdivision only has one way in and out, and that access point has been blocked three times in the last two weeks, said Terri Hicks, homeowner’s association president. Twice, inclement weather has been the culprit, and a car accident has also caused the entrance to be blocked, she said.

Resident and developer Dan Cristiani has twice opened a gravel road that traverses his property that connects to the neighboring Brook Hollow subdivision to allow vehicles to enter and exit when the issue has arisen, but Hicks asked the council to support a more permanent solution, as it’s a public safety issue.

“If we can’t get out, emergency vehicles can’t get it,” Hicks said.

Hicks said the neighborhood’s residents are asking that an emergency route be designated that would cut through property under the purview of the River Ridge Development Authority, and asked that the council and the mayor use their influence to support the emergency road. She said the homeowner’s association would gladly pay for a guard to be posted at the entrance.

“I think what you’re asking for makes sense,” Councilman Nathan Samuel said.

OTHER MATTERS

• The council unanimously approved a resolution approving a new collective bargaining agreement with the Jeffersonville Fire Fighters Local 558. Council Attorney Scott Lewis said the agreement was virtually identical to one the council approved with the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

• The council approved an ordinance designating 213 Jackson St. as a single-site historic district. The vote was 6-1.

• Council President Dennis Julius and Councilman Zach Payne were absent from the meeting.