Rock Hill residents: Fix our drains

adouglas@heraldonline.comApril 18, 2013 

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    The Rock Hill City Council plans to discuss stormwater projects at its budget workshop at 8 a.m. April 25 at City Hall, Room 373.

— Children standing in ankle-deep water to wait for school buses on streets without sidewalks in Rock Hill is “outrageous,” Green Street Extension resident Bettye Hicks told city leaders on Thursday.

Many people who live near Hicks’ home in the Flint Hill area of the city have complained for more than two years that the city, county and state have passed the buck on fixing stormwater drainage problems.

The neighborhood’s City Council representative, Osbey Roddey, told residents on Thursday that he understood the frustration but solutions may be on the way.

“We’ve been meeting, but as you say, nothing has happened. We kept passing the buck,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting in Ward 5 was the fourth in a series of meetings with Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols and council members in their districts.

Roddey’s Ward 5 includes many neighborhoods in the Albright Road and Saluda Street area of south Rock Hill.

Early next month, the City Council will hear new information from consultants hired two years ago to study to the area’s drainage problems.

At that meeting, the council will see a list of 127 projects for areas with stormwater drainage problems that need attention.

“We’ve never had a list of where all the problems are – we have that now,” said David Vehaun, city manager.

The council likely will be asked to consider setting funding aside for three of the projects on the list, he said.

It’s unclear whether those projects will be in the Flint Hill area.

Fixing drainage problems along roads is costly, Vehaun said. Just three stormwater projects will probably cost the city $2 million.

In the Flint Hill area, “water is everywhere,” Hicks said.

“The water just comes on our houses.”

Some parts of Rock Hill, including much of the Flint Hill section, have issues that are hard to solve because they are in low-lying areas where water naturally collects.

In many cases, “there’s not much of anything we can do,” said David Dickson, city of Rock Hill stormwater engineer.

To add to the city’s challenge, many of the stormwater drainage problems originate on state-owned roads.

In some cases, Vehaun said, Rock Hill realizes “the state is not going to do anything about it – we have to step in.”

Some neighborhoods see flooding on streets not because drains don’t exist but because drains are blocked – a problem of the state not maintaining its infrastructure, Dickson said.

Two residents raised questions Thursday about bringing public transportation to Rock Hill.

One Ward 5 resident said the city needs to join the Greyhound bus company’s network. Many people use the service, she said, but find it difficult to travel to Charlotte to board a Greyhound.

Another resident asked why Rock Hill can’t establish a fixed-route bus system.

The issue of public buses has come up at all four community meetings held recently.

Rock Hill doesn’t have enough ridership or population right now to support a bus system, Mayor Doug Echols has said at all the meetings.

The city, he said, continues to monitor ridership on CATS, a bus service from Rock Hill to Charlotte, and Access, an appointment-based shuttle service in York County.

The Access service receives financial help from the federal government and York County.

A traditional fixed-bus route would help those in the city without cars, Echols said, but “we just don’t have that kind of density yet.”

Echols and Roddey both said the city couldn’t justify the cost of a new bus service right now. If a private company wants to start the service, Roddey said, that could be a solution.

The next neighborhood meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the City Operations Center’s community room at 757 S. Anderson Road.

Echols and councilman Kevin Sutton will attend the Ward 3 meeting.

Meetings are held within each council member’s ward, but anyone may attend.

Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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