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City Visits Slayton Hill Neighbors

Lebanon Officials Discuss Design of Repairs to Flooding Trouble Spot

Dave McNamara, center right, project manager at Fay, Spofford and Thorndike for the Slayton Hill restoration, talks to residents during a walkabout of Slayton Hill Road on October 8, 2013. Members of the Lebanon Parks and Recreation department were joined by a team of engineers who have been contracted to develop a comprehensive plan to fix the damage. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

Dave McNamara, center right, project manager at Fay, Spofford and Thorndike for the Slayton Hill restoration, talks to residents during a walkabout of Slayton Hill Road on October 8, 2013. Members of the Lebanon Parks and Recreation department were joined by a team of engineers who have been contracted to develop a comprehensive plan to fix the damage. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

Lebanon — Three months after a one-two punch of microburst storms washed out Slayton Hill Road, city officials and engineers met with residents to discuss how their properties will be impacted by an extensive reconstruction project meant to correct long-standing drainage problems.

Engineers on Tuesday evening offered residents “worst-case scenarios” of how much of their properties could be impacted, with the understanding that it would be weeks until design details are finalized.

Project Manager Dave McNamara from Massachusetts-based Fay, Spofford and Thorndike said the process would involve evaluating easements, rights-of-way and assessments.

“The bottom line is we’re very early in the design process, so the design is going to get modified as we go forward,” he said.

Some residents, however, were already worried.

Amelia Sereen had plenty of exchanges with city officials and the project manager during Tuesday’s two-hour “walkabout” along the properties on the road’s bottom section, which suffered the most extensive damage in the storms of July 1 and 2.

“I’m worried about theoretical lines because they determine the outer limits and the outer limits determine where other things end up,” Sereen said. “So you may say this is a theoretical line and I’m saying this is a line that’s on record, and that worries me.”

Underlying some residents’ concerns was a sense of fatigue among Slayton Hill Road neighbors who already have endured road closings, traffic delays, surveying and construction in the months since the storms.

While residents had hoped to have a semblance of normalcy restored by winter, the city’s time line has construction starting next spring and continuing through November.

“The rebuilding of the road has been really slow,” said Doug Morse, who lives just up the hill from where the worst damage took place in the storms.

Morse is concerned about losing a significant portion of his lawn and that construction could interfere with his septic system. He said the most frustrating aspect so far has been traffic disruption. What used to be a half-mile coast down the hill to Mechanic Street now involves a seven-mile detour, depending on construction activity.

“We have to look down the road to see if crews are working, and if they are, we take the detour,” Morse said. “People at the top of the hill are coming down just to find out they’re working, and then racing up the hill.”

Other Slayton Hill Road residents, such as Ruth McDevitt, have taken a hands-off approach.

“We don’t care,” McDevitt told engineers who were informing her of a potential property impact. “We just want it to work.”

McDevitt said that she moved into her home in May and has little emotional attachment to how her property looked before the storm.

John Simone, who lives directly below the “problem culvert” that played a key role in the flood damage during recent major storms, said he was hopeful the city’s plan would work.

After 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene, which caused damage similar to this year’s but on a lesser scale, Simone had to spend $5,000 to repair his driveway. He anticipates having to spend more than that this time, but said he won’t undertake the project until he sees the final outcome of the road reconstruction.

City Budget Impact

Finance Director Len Jarvi said earlier this week that the city’s share in the total damage would amount to more than $1.2 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75 percent of the $6.5 million in repairs to city infrastructure.

The $1.2 million represents the cost of temporary road stabilization projects to be completed before winter and also incorporates some of the design and engineering costs from the Slayton Hill Road rehabilitation. Jarvi said some capital improvement projects might have to be shifted around in the upcoming fiscal year to make money available for the storm damage repairs.

“We took a hard look at some of the existing capital projects that are either done or almost done, and it appears as though we’re able to free up a significant amount of money to help in funding the $1.2 million,” said Jarvi.

He added that “a couple hundred thousand dollars” in storm cleanup expenses will be drawn from reserve funds that can be made available for emergency expenditures.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213