Chester looks for drainage solution

CHESTER – The City of Chester is still groping for a solution to a drainage problem that caused flooding on private property in July.

The flooding from heavy rains on July 10 overwhelmed a city storm sewer under the home of Don and Cindy Harris, of 18 Columbia Ave. on Chester’s west side, and left a three-foot sink hole in their backyard.

The Harrises asked Chester City Council to repair the break in the line and the flooding damage, but city officials balked at the request, saying there was no proof the line was city-owned.

“We didn’t put it in. It’s on private property, and we’re not in the habit of going on private property and fixing things,” Mayor Ken Morris said.

Now the city’s insurance company, Travelers Insurance, has ruled on the Harrises’ claim, determining that the line is the city’s. Morris said the insurance company will pay at least part of the claim, but he didn’t know the dollar amount.

“We have to get that line fixed because they won’t pay it a second time,” Morris said.

On Monday, council met prior to its regular meeting to discuss the issue. Although the project scope is still unclear, Morris said the city needs to find a way to divert storm water away from the Harrises’ property and to the Ohio River.

That will involve removing an underground 20-by-24-foot tank that serves as a gathering point for storm water from Fairview Road, First Street and elsewhere on the city’s west side, he said.

“It’s not going to be cheap; it’s not going to be easy,” Morris told council.

Morris and council members agreed to seek an expert opinion on project scope and possible solutions but stopped short of approving a plan.

Afterward, Morris said, “We’re going to try to find an engineer to help us out and point us in the direction we need to go.”

Also Monday, council:

Voted to make Alba Avenue a one-way street because of safety concerns.

“There’s going to be a wreck on that hill,” Councilman Steve Shuman said, “and it’s going to involve kids because that’s who’s always up there.”

Discussed properties on Carolina and Pennsylvania avenues owned by Reed Avery, who has been summoned to appear in Chester City Court for allegedly violating the city’s unkempt properties ordinance.

Councilman John Woodruff said the properties have high grass.

Set Sept. 25 as the date to conduct interviews for a part-time street department position. The street department currently is comprised of Shuman and Mark Six. “Last winter, it was just Mark and I,” Shuman said. “We could really use the help.”

Councilman Brian Handley suggested the city hire two part-time employees, rather than one full-time worker.

Discussed the issue of traffic by Waste Management trucks and whether they’re damaging the city’s side streets.

Learned that the sixth-annual “Holding Hands for Hope” cancer fundraiser is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Chester Municipal Building.

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