Slayton Hill Plan Unveiled
Lebanon Proposes Overhaul for Flood-Damaged Road
Lebanon Public Works employee Ed Dutile connects a water hydrant T-junction during reconstruction work on Slayton Hill Road in Lebanon on Monday, September 23, 2013. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
A Lebanon Public Works employee works on Slayton Hill Road in Lebanon on Monday, September 23, 2013. The road was devastated by flooding in early July. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Lebanon — Most Slayton Hill Road residents would have to surrender portions of their front yards under City Hall’s proposal to redesign the road, which was damaged by flooding in July.
Preliminary plans unveiled at a forum Monday night call for larger culverts and ditches to be installed along the road. There is no way to install those features without taking chunks of residents’ properties.
“It’s a give-up, to accommodate a new (reality),” City Manager Greg Lewis said in an interview. “We’re going to have to figure the balance out – keep the (rural) values, but accommodate the extreme weather events.”
The plans came with an acknowledgement from city officials that a 2002 reconstruction was inadequate to protect Slayton Hill Road, which is steep and flanked by streams, from flooding.
Designers were hampered by Slayton Hill Road’s designation of the road as a “Scenic Road,” which forced engineers to confine improvements in 2002 to the existing footprint of the road, city engineers said.
As a result, new culverts and ditches were no larger than their predecessors, and the road was built to withstand only a “25-year storm.”
That proved inadequate early July during fierce rainstorms that brought five inches over two days, and 15 inches total in June and July.
The reconstruction currently planned would protect the road against a “100-year” storm — as long as the city can get permission from individual landowners to cut into their yards to install larger culverts and ditches.
Construction would begin in May and last until November.
Many residents last night said they were amenable to giving up some property, if it stopped flooding problems.
“I’d rather them take a couple feet from my yard and not to have to worry about (redirecting) water,” Slayton Hill resident John Topolewski said. “I’m not overly concerned yet. I could be in the future.”
Beth White, a longtime Slayton Hill Road resident, said flooding has been a constant problem in her yard. And in the winter, she said, the road becomes iced as water flows over it and freezes.
“It’s been terrible since the reconstruction,” White said.
Doug Morse said that, even though the preliminary reconstruction plans might force him to relocate a tree he planted a couple years ago, and a stonewall, he was open to the project.
In the coming weeks, city officials will meet with individual residents at their homes, and additional public forums are planned, Lewis said. Officials also are working to obtain funding from federal sources.
Residents have complained in recent months that the city’s response has been slow, and problems have been festering for years. City officials seemed at pains to stress the message was received.
Nearly every city department head, along with other employees, packed a conference room at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Centerra Park, with speakers repeatedly inviting residents to provide feedback.
“We want to get everybody’s opinion on what they can live with in their front yards,” McNamara said. “We know there are septic systems, stonewalls, trees.”
Lewis struck a contrite tone in his opening remarks. “I think so far we have been imperfect, because we’re adjusting,” Lewis told a crowd of about 70 people. “We’re trying to do better and we will do better.”
Mark Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 727-3304.