Solutions sought for Cherry Street flooding

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NAUGATUCK — The borough could buy and tear down six homes along Cherry Street to fix faulty drain pipes that run under the foundations of those homes.

That’s one of three solutions borough officials are considering to fix periodic flooding of homes that get pummeled every time there is a heavy rainstorm.

The borough has hired the engineering firm Clough, Harbour & Associates of Rocky Hill to devise a solution. In a draft report, the company refers to three solutions ranging in price from $2.7 million to $5 million. The least expensive includes buying six homes on the east side of Cherry Street for about $200,000 apiece, then tearing them down and building a water detention basin.

This area of Cherry Street gets pummeled during heavy rain storms as the drainage pipes in the area aren't large enough to hold the water. The borough is looking into ways to fix the problem and may tear down some homes in the area to get to faulty drain pipes and build a water retention pond.
This area of Cherry Street gets pummeled during heavy rain storms as the drainage pipes in the area aren't large enough to hold the water. The borough is looking into ways to fix the problem and may tear down some homes in the area to get to faulty drain pipes and build a water retention pond.

Residents who live on the east side of Cherry Street between Spencer and Ann streets have experienced periodic flooding during heavy rain storms for 40 years, according to the study. The flooding elevates the groundwater and causes water to pool more than knee deep in the street, and it floods adjacent lots and homes. Other homeowners report having runoff flow across their properties when the water overwhelms drain pipes on Pleasant Avenue, Charles Street and Spencer Street.

During one storm in January 1979, 12 families on Cherry Street Extension were evacuated because of heavy rain.

The report states the flooding occurs because drain pipes are not large enough to channel water when it rains heavily.

Jim Thornton of 356 Cherry St. said water has pooled so high in his basement that it has reached the ceiling rafters. It has gotten so deep in his garage that it has ruined two cars that were flooded to the dashboards.

He says every mayoral administration has known about the problem, and he’s seen no action except for an overflow pipe that helped a little years ago. He’s not confident anything will be done now.

“I’ve heard so many promises and a bunch of lip service,” he said. “I’m very cynical at this point.”

He thinks the water is coming from a brook on Hunters Mountain. The water runs into a 24-inch drain pipe, then into an open area before running down hill into a 12-inch drain pipe.

“When you start trying to put 24 into 12, it sure doesn’t fit too well,” he said.

He said residents and town officials now make sure all of the pipes are clear of debris when it rains, which has helped. “But I’m 74 years old,” he said. “I’m not going to stand outside in the rain cleaning pipes. I won’t last too long.”

Thornton said he has been denied flood insurance several times.

The engineering report recommends the town install new, larger pipes between two to three times the size of the current pipes that could accommodate water during heavy rain storms.

The cheapest plan calls for demolition of the southerly six homes located on the east side of Cherry Street, and excavation of approximately 8,150 cubic yards of soil to create a detention basin.

That plan would cost $2.71 million, while two other plans that would better address the problem would cost $4.42 million and $5.08 million, respectively.

The report states the $4.42 million plan is the least expensive that provides an acceptable level of flood protection.

Mayor Robert A. Mezzo said it’s premature to talk about whether the borough would take properties to fix the problem. He wants to wait until the final report comes out, then have a discussion with neighbors.

He said the borough would seek funding options, but warned it will be a slow process.