Flooding Concerns Addressed At Ellery Meeting

BEMUS POINT – Flooding in the town of Ellery has residents seriously concerned about their properties.

At the Ellery Town Board meeting Thursday night, a number of residents expressed their difficulties with flooding and drainage issues.

Mike Lyons and John Antonevich, of Overlook Terrace, are having difficulties with drainage between their properties.

“Something has gone wrong in the drainage tile,” Lyons said. “Soil is collapsing around the pipe.”

Both Lyons and Antonevich believe that there needs to be an official decision about who is responsible for the drainage tile, be it the town, county or state.

“The bottom line is, we cannot find if the town has a right of way or not,” Lyons said.

Neil Robinson, counsel for the town of Ellery, said that the town could acquire an easement for the site. He added that the town is looking into a resolution for five-year easements – an extension from their previous six-month and one-year agreements with homeowners.

Arden Johnson, board supervisor, said that he would get in touch with the sewer district about having the district clean the drainage tile and use a camera to assess whether or not repairs need to be made.

John Powers, of the Greenhurst Property Association, addressed the board with photographic evidence of the damage on Greenhurst Avenue from the recent flooding of Dutch Hollow Creek.

The photographs documented erosion behind houses on the street, the formation of a large gravel bank, the creek extending 120 feet from the normal creek bed and fallen trees, among other issues.

“Who is responsible for these trees that fall down?” Powers said.

Steven Wascher, a homeowner on Greenhurst Avenue, said that the tree issues are not new.

According to Wascher, multiple times throughout the last six years, trees from surrounding properties have landed in his yard, requiring his time and effort to clean up.

He also agreed that the flooding is causing “significant erosion.”

“I lost five yards of creekfront and other homes down the creek are losing property that we are paying taxes on,” Wascher said.

According to Powers, he has spoken to state Sen. Catharine Young and to his understanding, municipalities were to contact Chautauqua Emergency Services about the flooding, who would then direct requests for flooding assistance to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Greg Hallberg, Ellery highway superintendent, said that Dave Wilson, district field manager for the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, has put together a $55,000 bed tax grant application for 2015 to help with erosion issues.

According to Johnson, a study was completed in 2008 that suggested a cost of $500,000 to complete a restabilization project on Dutch Hollow Creek.

“I called (Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown) and Young to get them up there to see if there is any more money in the state for this project,” Johnson said.

Hallberg said that he plans to work on the creek banks in the near future, sloping the gravel in order to keep the water within the banks of the creek.

Residents in attendance felt that although this was a short-term solution, it was a good start.

“We leave it in your hands,” Powers said to the board. “Thanks for your effort.”

Robinson also proposed a resolution to provide Johnson the ability to elicit county and federal funds for the repairs necessary following the erosion of Dutch Hollow Creek, which the board approved.

Wascher addressed the board about other drainage issues on his property, which Hallberg said he would look into.