Officials bicker over flooding on Washington-Canton line

September 20, 2013
This intersection at Hayes and Caldwell avenues on the Washington and Canton Township municipal line has been hit with flooding over the past year. Washington and Canton Township officials are in disagreement about who is at fault. - Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The convergence of three roads operated by three separate government entities is delaying a solution to flooding that’s affecting several homes situated near the Washington and Canton Township municipal line.

The situation has created a perfect storm for officials in Washington, Canton Township and the state Department of Transportation as they disagree on how to fix the problem and who’s to blame for it.

The flooding of four homes on Caldwell Avenue in Canton started last year after the township resurfaced nearby Hayes Avenue and water began running down the hill. But officials there say they’ve tried to mitigate the flooding and blame Washington for not constructing storm drains to Broad Street.

“We’re taking care of our water as much as we can, but the city of Washington hasn’t done anything to correct their problem,” Canton Supervisor Robert Franks said. “They’re probably a bigger culprit than we are.”

But Washington officials disagree. An intergovernmental cooperation study between Washington and Canton to find an engineering solution was voted down in a 2-2 tie by city council last week after Mayor Brenda Davis and Councilman Terry Faust said they were concerned about how much it would cost and whether it would stretch their resources too thin.

Davis blamed Canton for the problem since there was never flooding at that intersection until the repaving on Hayes. Davis also pointed to city stormwater issues on Summerlea, Campbell and Burton avenues that she thinks should take precedence.

“Until we get our own stormwater problems handled, we can’t clean up another issue,” Davis said.

City Councilman Ken Westcott, who voted for the engineering study, wants them to find a solution rather than bickering about who’s at fault.

“It’s not about liking or disliking the township. It’s about helping the individuals who are having problems with flooding,” Westcott said. “We could easily say it’s another township and it’s their problem. But we should be a good neighbor and work with them. As long as it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, we should at least try to fix the problem.”

Councilman Matt Staniszewski estimated the engineering study would cost $2,000 to $3,000 and be split between the two municipalities. The study is expected to be on the agenda next month when Councilman Joe Manning, who did not attend the Sept. 12 meeting, could be the deciding vote to break the stalemate.

PennDOT Spokeswoman Valerie Petersen said the agency is also getting involved since it maintains Caldwell Avenue, where the water is pooling during hard rain storms. She said PennDOT is trying to work as an intermediary for the two sides to figure out how to solve the problem.

“Representatives from both Canton and Washington met at the site and all agreed there is a problem and that it needs to be worked on,” Petersen said. “The engineers will look at solutions to fix the problem. We’re just the moderator working with them to try to find a solution.”

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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