By all counts, Gloucester Public Works Director Mike Hale is right – the flooding that has plagued the area off Maplewood Avenue, Myrtle Square and Grove Street is on private property, and may well involve privately funded infrastructure to fix.
Yet, Ward 2 City Councilor Melissa Cox also makes an important point in saying that “a business hurt, a homeowner hurt, hurts Gloucester.” And in that vein, the city should indeed provide whatever help it can to carve out a solution that may well be rooted in city-approved development plans nearly a decade ago, whether through extending drainage infrastructure or simply covering the cost of providing expertise to sort out a solution.
According to engineers hired by neighborhood residents, the current drainage pipeline runs up Maplewood Avenue from Prospect Street, then turns at the Maplewood Car Wash toward the commuter rail tracks. The engineers suggest that the city extend the piping from the car wash on down Maplewood Avenue and thereby tie in the flooded areas.
Hale, meanwhile, notes that his department has examined the water drainage system in the Maplewood Avenue area many times — including last spring, when crews cleared soot as well as bicycle tires and even televisions from the city drainage. He also noted that DPW crews checked the entire system even two weeks ago, prior to a meeting with neighborhood residents. And while many area businesses and residents believe development of the Whistlestop Way shopping plaza created additional runoff, Hale said that would be a private issue between those businesses and the residents themselves.
But even if it and city taxpayers are not be liable for the problem, the city should try to be part of a solution.
Let’s hope one is found soon.