Archive for Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Mudslide forces repairs to wall

June 23, 2004

Calley Murray woke up to a muddy mess in her back yard on Friday.

Just about 10 feet behind her apartment at Pleasant Village is, or was, a grass covered embankment with a railroad tie retaining wall at ground level.

But when rains soaked the soil last week, a section of the embankment came sliding down -- taking a 20-foot piece of the retaining wall with it.

"It was just kind of a shock," Murray said. "Because it was all scattered down there, I just wondered if all of it was going to go down like that."

Georgette Shoemaker, who manages the senior retirement living center for owner Wayne Guth, recommended that Murray, and another resident who lives in the apartments closest to the embankment, move into another unit. But both declined.

"I just love it here," said Murray who spends her summer days tending to her flower beds. "Just me and the birds and the snakes and the rabbits and the squirrels."

This week, workers have installed French drains between the embankment and the apartments, Shoemaker said.

That will help drain water off the property once it gets there, she said.

"But what the problem is, is that drainage comes from above (on neighboring property) and there's no city ordinance that says you can't drain your water off onto your neighbor's property," Shoemaker said.

Looking at the big picture

Tonganoxie City Administrator Shane Krull said the city's rules regarding water runoff are "macro," rather than "micro."

For instance, Krull said, new subdivisions are planned with stormwater policies that direct the water to a logical outflow point.

"It doesn't address each individual lot," Krull said.

The city's drainwater regulations for subdivisions should be planned to handle water runoff and provide retention based on rainfall that might be possible from a 10-year-storm.

A 10-year storm is a method of measurement to calculate the amount of drainage necessary to keep water from flowing onto adjacent properties or public rights of way.

Krull said when water drainage disputes arise between property owners, the city does not get involved.

"In past discussions with the previous city attorney Mike Crow, it would be a civil matter between the property owners," Krull said. "I'm not sure if they pursued it legally, ultimately where the responsibility would lie."

It will be fixed

Phone calls to Pleasant Village property owner Guth were not returned. However Shoemaker said the retaining wall would be replaced.

"We've got an engineer that's going to come and look at putting up a concrete wall," Shoemaker said.

But will that solve the problem, she wonders.

"I can put a wall up, but until that water gets diverted away from us, it can still push a concrete wall over," Shoemaker said.

Meanwhile Pleasant Village residents, including Calley Murray, are hoping the problem can be fixed.

"It just practically drowned my flowers," Murray said.

And, she's been keeping track of the workers' progress as the new drains are installed -- keeping her sense of humor all the while.

"I told them I expected to see alligators running around because it's just like a swamp out there," Murray said, chuckling.

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