Portland council mulls drainage issue

By ANN BELCHER

OBSERVER Correspondent

PORTLAND – Ice that formed at the mouth of a creek on Portland’s lake front property was discussed at Wednesday’s town council meeting.

Portland resident Tom Webb approached the council with an approximately $700 charge from a local trenching company that he would like the town to cover.

Webb, a former town of Portland official, reiterated to the board a standing agreement that was made in the 1980s that allowed the town access to his property in order to dig a drainage ditch that since has routinely carried water from the south side of Route 5. At the time, homes on Patterson Lane and Tastor Lane were flooded due to the amount of water coming from that side of the road. The access granted alleges Webb, to have the ditch dug, as long as the town agreed to maintain the ditch. Since that time, he noted, the ditch has been properly maintained and subsequent flooding has been averted; however, this January he stated “ice formed at the mouth of that creek and flooded property all the way up through Beach Place.”

According to Highway Supervisor Ron Delcamp, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, the town did not have equipment that could access the site of the clog or be able to clear it this winter.

At the time that the agreement was made, noted Webb, no formal contracts were drawn up between the parties and the verbal agreement was made in good faith that it would be honored.

Councilman Rick Manzella confirmed with Webb, “So the town made this ditch on private property?”

“Yes, with my permission. We wanted to take care of the situation as quickly as possible and I have no problem with the ditch remaining there, but I need help keeping it maintained,” answered Webb.

Manzella stated while he understands that water in the amount being claimed by Webb is very damaging, he’s not sure how the town would tackle this again if the ditch were to freeze next winter.

Councilman Al Valentin also added, “The sticking point for us is that this requires work to be done on private property, which shouldn’t be done. And how do we make this specific to just your situation?”

Webb replied that he is willing to grant the town an easement for the ditch to be maintained and that a precedent has already been established by the ditch being maintained thus far.

Town Attorney Charles Loveland also questioned whether the town had the right to maintain it, or purchase equipment to maintain it unless the waters were endangering a highway.

All parties agreed to make a visit to the property to see exactly what the situation calls for and investigate a solution to meeting the needs of homeowners legally.

The council members also resolved to schedule an upcoming town council meeting at the Van Buren Point meeting hall in hopes of discussing any town issues specific to the residents there.