Citing safety concerns and property damage, some residents along Vicksburg Drive are calling on the city to implement a long-term solution they are happy with.
Travis Yates, a resident on Vicksburg Drive, and Kayla Giasson, another resident on the street, spoke at the April 3 council meeting. Yates said it was another step in an over two-year process he has been trying to engage the city on the issue.
City staff have been out at his and neighbor’s property, said Yates, adding that there was a solution proposed after a drainage study was authorized by council in May 2022. The proposal resulting from the study involved installing pipes and better drainage behind the property on a bridle path but was ultimately scrapped because of threatened legal action by property owners, Yates said.
He continued, saying that he favors that solution because the city can always re-sod the areas along the bridle path and restore it to its current state using a utility easement that is already there.
“There’s no permanent damage because they can put it back to the way it was,” Yates said.
Corey Nesbit, director of capital improvement projects and public works, said several proposals with varying costs to the city, impacts to existing structures and legal restrictions were considered.
As a longtime resident of the street, Yates said the bridle path has not been used by the property owners behind his home in several years. Because of the setbacks with the original proposal from the city, there was a new offer that he said failed to address residents’ issues permanently.
The city’s new offer, Yates said, was to regrade certain areas within residents’ property to keep water from draining into and pooling in small gullies that have formed. The issue has resulted in some neighbors, such as Yates, having to install makeshift solutions for fencing but leaving the long-term issues he and others have identified.
With the regrading, Yates, a certified engineering technologist who works at an engineering firm, said washout could occur in a few years or it could last, but that uncertainty bothers him with the latest proposal. Also at issue is the short turnaround time he feels he and other residents received with an April 14 deadline to accept the city’s proposed regrading and installation of a wrought-iron fence. The original deadline was March 31 after letters were sent out March 9, but staff extended it at the request of residents.
Nesbit said all the work pertaining to the regrading and re-establishing of the drainage swale would be done at no cost to homeowners.
Yates indicated that he and his like-minded neighbors would not be responding to accept the regrading solution because of difficulties in organizing the entire street with over 30 residences.
“It felt like the whole thing was set up to fail,” Yates said. “It felt like they thought they could do this and wash their hands of it.”
Nesbit said staff have presented the most cost effective and least invasive solution to the drainage issues.
“Staff has proposed a solution that we believe is the most cost effective, is the least invasive option to the residents, has no legal implications and can be done to mitigate most of the drainage issues,” Nesbit said. “The residents appear to be in disagreement with each other on which option is the best.”
Currently, residents’ complaints center around significant water buildup in the aftermath of storms that does not drain quickly. Yates said they notice the potential for increased mosquito breeding that poses a potential health risk to the community.
There are also concerns about property damage from significant floods that Yates says have washed out parts of his neighbors’ yards while coming up to the property line. In explaining his concerns, he said that a slope in the terrain’ elevation has drainage from nearby Ponderosa Drive running onto certain properties on Vicksburg Drive.
There is also erosion on the ground that means some fences are not firmly planted into the ground.
Yates’ solution was chicken wire and concrete to prevent his dogs from digging under and to keep local wildlife or neighbors’ pets out.
“Before I installed the chicken wire and concrete, I would have coyotes and neighbors’ dogs get in,” Yates said. “One day, I had a random dog walk into my house through my doggy door.”
His neighbor has installed flaps under his fence for enhanced security. Speaking at the April 3 meeting, Giasson said she had a dog killed by a coyote in her backyard.
Up until recently, Yates said the city and councilmembers had been responsive to his communications regarding the issue, adding that he thinks the city will communicate with him once a solution is approved. He has also hosted councilmembers Brett Franks, Frank Millsap and Chance Lindsey out to see some of the issues he raised.
Additionally, Yates said cost should not be an issue when it comes to addressing the residents’ concerns.
“With something affecting an entire street, cost shouldn’t be a concern,” Yates said.
He added that he thinks a newer neighborhood, such as Woodbridge, experiencing these issues would not have to fight this hard for a problem to be addressed. According to an email provided to residents, there will be an executive session to discuss the issues, said Yates.
In the past, some complaints raised to council have gone away over time. However, Yates said that he and some other residents are prepared to raise the issue to the city until it is resolved.
“Once they see Kayla [Giasson] and I are stubborn about it, we’ll see a larger representation. It’s going to take a consistent and growing effort,” Yates said. “If council tells the city that ‘this is getting fixed,’ it’s getting fixed.”
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