A problem with storm water drainage in the Towles Avenue and Calvin Street area behind Bobby Ray Elementary may not have a simple solution.
“We thought we had fixed the problem with some ditch work behind the school last year, but I guess not,” said McMinnville Public Works assistant director Brad Hennessee.
Last year, the city dug behind the school trying to clear away debris that had accumulated, preventing the water from moving from the school’s property to Calvin Street where it could enter a drain.
“We had permission from the school to do it,” said Hennessee. “Being on school property, that is still private property. We thought we could fix the problem.”
Hennessee says even the school’s maintenance crew did some work in the area.
“I haven’t heard any complaints since then, so I thought it was fixed,” he said.
The water problem lies behind the home of Danny Sullivan, literally.
“Water just stands there,” Sullivan said. “During the summer months, I can’t go into my yard because of the mosquitoes. They are everywhere.”
The water comes from school property and Towles Avenue and travels through the back of Sullivan’s property on its way toward Calvin Street. From there, the water accesses a drainage pipe under Calvin Street and moves into a sinkhole where it disappears underground.
The perfect-world scenario is not what’s happening, says Sullivan.
“The drainage pipe that is supposed to allow the water to drain under Calvin Street is too high up,” he said. “The water pools and can’t drain. Some of it does, but the rest just stands there. The water behind my house doesn’t even get to the drain.”
Directly under the drain pipe are water and sewer lines, so lowering the drain pipe may not be possible.
“The water and sewer lines would have to be relocated,” said Hennessee. “I’m not sure that can be done. It might be a joint effort by the Water and Sewer Committee and the Street and Sanitation Committee to make that decision. I’m thinking, if it could be done, it would get very costly for the city.”
From an above ground Public Works perspective, the problem is elevation.
“There isn’t enough elevation leading the water from the school’s property to the drainage pipe,” Hennessee said. “It’s almost a flat surface. Being private property, I don’t think there is anything that can be done by us to correct it. This is a civil matter between property owners.”
With what feels like an early summer and mosquitos already in the air, Sullivan is worried about the city’s decision to stop spraying for mosquitoes.
“We don’t have the equipment at this time to spray for mosquitoes,” said Hennessee.
Sullivan plans to address the city board at its next meeting about the standing water in hopes of finding a solution.