UPDATE, Oct. 24, 2011 - Robert Moore, owner of 50 Warren St., spoke with Westborough Patch today to say that many of the words in the meeting reported below were shared in frustration. He wanted to clarify that his property is not flooding on a regular basis and that it only experienced flooding on one occasion, “about four years ago.”
He said, “Things are not like they were in June. They have gotten better.” He added that the Town of Westborough has been by the property to straighten the problematic culvert.
In addition, Moore said that the abutters have worked with the town to move forward with improvements. A discussion at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Sept. 27 included approval of a consultant to discuss one of two solutions to ease flooding in at the Jack Straw Brook. To date, no decision about a proposed solution has been made.
As executor of his brother’s estate, which included 50 Warren St., Moore has put the property on the market.
June 29, 2011 - Several Warren Street residents attended the meeting Tuesday night in the hopes of finally reaching a solution to the flooding problem that has been plaguing their area for a number of years.
Town Engineer, Carl Balduf, along with several others, has been working on a solution to the flooding of the Jackstraw Brook for a number of years.
Back in the fall of 2009, the town approved $600,000 for the purpose of finding a solution. The initial phase of the project required a professional report to learn of the best solution.
"The result of the report was to leave the current pipe in place," Balduf explained. "Then make a diversion that would be 4 feet high by 10 feet wide and 250 feet long."
The existing diversion, which is oval shaped and 3 feet high by 4 feet wide, is not working in reducing the flooding.
"This area has been flooding for as long as anyone can remember," Balduf said. "But the reality is it is increasing. There is no doubt the development upstream has contributed to the problem, but weather is not static."
Balduf wants it made perfectly clear that all of the developments built upstream were done with town permission and to code.
The problem now is the town cannot go forward with the creation of the new culvert because some of the neighbors, there are six in all, will not grant the town easements to their property without compensation. The town, therefore, would have to take the property by eminent domain and that will cost the town more than the proposed $600,000 that was approved.
Because of this, a second plan was proposed.
"The new plan is a proposal to replace the existing corrugated metal pipe with an open bottom concrete base culvert," Balduf explained. "The size that would work is the question."
This will help reduce the flooding (on the even numbered side of the street), but will pass more water to the other side of the road, thus causing a new problem. The solution to that concern is to build a berm.
"The real question is, 'Will the berm work?'" Balduf said.
None of the neighbors is comfortable with the second plan, believing it will only cause more problems to the odd numbered side of the street if the berm fails.
Selectmen George Thompson was clear that he felt the only thing holding up the original plan, which everyone was happy with, was the lack of the town being able to have rights to the properties needed.
"What is holding me up is the town needing to pay more money," Thompson said. "I won't support this project if we're paying for the easement."
"I am simply tired of being flooded," Robert Moore of 50 Warren St. said. "I am in favor of any plan that moves this forward. I am not looking for compensation."
"The town had every intention of going forward," Chairman of the Selectmen Lydia Goldblatt said. "It is not us stopping this."
Jim Cavaretta, 52 Warren St., admits that he is not comfortable handing the town an easement to his property without compensation.
"I am the other half of the problem," Cavaretta said. "The stream currently comes across my property, so to do this work would require my driveway to be torn up, half a dozen mature trees to be cut down, and my wife and I would be inconvenienced for however long this takes. My feeling was there was a value to that."
Thompson suggested returning to town meeting.
"Nowhere in my memory did we agree to spend more than $600,000 because we couldn't get the owners' approval," Thompson said. "If my house was burning, and Nick ( the fire chief) had to drive over my property and knock down some trees to save my home, I wouldn't expect compensation."
After much debate, Goldblatt called an end to the heated discussion noting over an hour had been spent on the topic with no solution at hand.
"You try being unable to leave for work or go anywhere every time it rains," a disgruntled neighbor threw out on departure.
The issue will be taken under advisement.