By Jeff Gallatin
City officials are working on finalizing arrangements with Cuyahoga County officials for getting assistance with sewer flooding as they continue to get a torrent of complaints about the issue.
Mayor Kevin Kennedy said Monday he’s put getting two county vacuum trucks and their crews to help clean up sewers and their flooding problems around the city on the fast track.
“It’s possible that it could go on suspension tomorrow (at the Aug. 2 city council meeting, the first since council returned from its July summer break) and be passed by council right away,” Kennedy said. “As I’ve been telling people at the community meetings and elsewhere, this is my number one priority, and we’re going to continue to work hard to solve this as quickly as we can.”
Kennedy brought the deal up among other points when he was queried by residents at the Thursday meeting in the Community Cabin about the flooding in homes and neighborhoods throughout the city after the last heavy rains. Several hundred people attended that meeting, which came just three days after about two hundred people attended a Sandy Ridge area meeting with city officials about the flooding in that city. Residents again related various horror stories about flooding in their homes and neighborhoods, with many referring to multiple incidents in the last few months and some talking of a pattern of flooding for many years.
A meeting with Bretton Ridge residents was scheduled for this past Monday.
‘We’re going to continue to work closely with residents on this issue,” Kennedy said. “We know it’s a matter of great importance to people and is affecting people’s neighborhoods and where they live.”
Kennedy said he has no problem seeking assistance from the county and other places if necessary.
“No, whatever we can try to do, if it will help we’ll consider it,” he said. “We have plans in place for long-term work on the treatment plant. But, we know people want results quicker to deal with the problems we have right now. So do we. That’s why we want to work with the county and are looking into other areas.”
In addition to the possible legislation for a deal with the county, the agenda also included legislation pertaining to the more than $40 million in renovations and upgrades scheduled for the wastewater treatment plant in the next few years.
Another possible avenue cited by North Olmsted officials was sharing resources with the neighboring city of Fairview Park. North Olmsted Safety/Service Director Scott Thomas said officials from that city had broached the possibility of borrowing North Olmsted’s camera truck to help them view potential issues in their city.
“I said that would be fine if we could borrow one of their vac trucks for the same amount of time that they had the camera equipment,” Thomas said.
Thomas said Monday he is still willing to work a deal like that if Fairview officials decide to take him up on that offer.
Kennedy said he’s all for a deal like that with Fairview if it can be done.
“Absolutely,” he said. “If we can do something like that or with anybody else where we could use different resources. We’re all about getting the problems dealt with.”
During the meeting, he told one resident who asked if the city could utilize resources from cities that haven’t had severe flooding that he didn’t know of any nearby cities that hadn’t had some type flooding.
“It’s all over the area this year with the three major storms we’ve had,” he said.
Kennedy said the city also continues to work on adding its own additional resources in workers and equipment.
Ward 2 City Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Paul Barker said the city is working on the problem at all levels, be it the administration, council or workers.
“It’s a widespread problem and we’re trying to work on it as fast and efficiently as possible,” he said. “If we can get resources from other areas that help, then I’m all for it. I’m glad the administration is looking at different means of doing things to try and deal with this.”