Council considers options for improving Seaview Terrace drainage
Belfast — Seaview Terrace is up for repaving and the city council is using the opportunity consider options for improving drainage of the roadway.
In an analysis presented to the city council at a special meeting Aug. 26, City Engineer Mandy Olver of Olver Associates in Winterport found that Seaview Terrace does not currently have adequate underdrain or surface drainage capacity. She outlined four options for improving drainage on the roadway.
In-ground drainage systems
The first option is to install a full in-ground drainage system on the south side of the road with seven grates and catch basins. The water would be directed to a culvert on Northport Avenue. This system would cost $132,000 to install, beyond the cost of the paving.
A second option, for a cost of $88,000 would be a reduced collection system using a smaller diameter underdrain that diverts water to the stream behind the houses through a buried pipe across a property on the north side of the road. This option is not possible at this time because the city does not have any easements or rights-of-way across any of the properties.
A third option is to run a perforated pipe along the south side of the street in a deep bed of gravel under a shallow swale. This pipe would collect water that channels into the swale as well as subsurface water from uphill and from gravel bed beneath the road surface. The water would then be diverted through three culverts crossing under the road and into existing swales that channel water across properties on the north side of the road to the stream behind the houses. This option would cost the city $45,500.
A 'sensible' solution
City Manager Joseph Slocum said the council is leaning toward the fourth, least expensive option: replacing existing culverts, grinding the existing road surface and paving over that. The ground pavement would add volume to the gravel base layer, improving drainage and raising the road several inches. A crown shape to the road surface will also help divert water from it. No cost figures over paving costs were included for this option, because it falls under basic maintenance.
Olver's report stated this option "may be the most sensible at this time."
Seaview Terrace, a dead-end residential road, has very little traffic and has not had to be repaved in 16 years. More heavily trafficked roads have higher priority for major drainage improvements to increase the longevity of the road surface, and very few last 16 years before needing to be repaved.
"We've had calls from Belfast residents about drainage concerns every month for as long as I can remember," Slocum said. "If we put in drains for one, we'd have to do it for all of them."
One resident's concerns
Seaview Terrace resident Laurie Allen has been approaching the city for several years with concerns that uphill developments and failures in the city's drainage systems channel excessive water to her property during rain storms.
Slocum told The Republican Journal in a meeting that uphill developments should not impact Allen's property. The planning board requires any development plans in Belfast to include a study on how runoff from impermeable surfaces will impact city storm drain systems. Usually these developments manage storm water with retention ponds that collect runoff during rainfall, and release the approved volume of water over a longer period. This should never raise the level of any waterways it feeds over their normal height, he said.
In 2011, then City Attorney William Kelley reviewed Allen's claims and found “the city of Belfast has no right, title, interest or obligation to maintain the stream/flood and drainage swale” on the property, and found no evidence that the city was ever deeded any easement to control the stream.
His report also stated that aerial photography evidence shows that the natural drainage system on Seaview Terrace properties has been in existence since at least 1939, with the stream flowing through the area before the subdivision was built, but approximately 35 to 40 feet south of where it runs today. Kelley wrote that the stream was moved by a private entity, not by the city, so houses could be built where the stream had been.
The move did not violate any laws or codes when the houses were built, but it would today, Slocum said.
The report continued: “In policy terms, it would be unlawful for the city to use public funds to improve private property, be that for erosion control or any other reason. That said, the city is obligated to maintain the drainage systems and culverts located within the rights of way, as well as those for which the city has obtained an easement over private property."
Slocum was to meet with residents of Seaview Terrace Wednesday, Sept. 3, to discuss the engineer's report.