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Carnegie neighbors blame Alcosan project for flooding

| Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, 10:04 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely
Carnegie resident Sandy Zielinski stands unamused in her sloped lawn filled with weeds following an Alcosan and Allison Park Construction project Wednesday August 14, 2012. Residents claim that since the project finished, there has been increased flooding in homes on Franklin Avenue. Zielinski has seen mold in her basement is letting her front lawn of weeds, not grass, grow to make a staement to the companies that did the work. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)

When Millie Rutkowski moved to the top of Franklin Avenue in Carnegie more than a decade ago, part of what drew her was the street's well-manicured lawns.

“I thought, ‘Boy, what a nice neighborhood,' and now this,” said Rutkowski, 68.

Today those lawns are filled with weeds, part of the fallout of an Allegheny County Sanitary Authority project last year to separate stormwater and sewer systems in the neighborhood.

Dave Shideler, president of Allison Park Contractors, which did the work, said the company plans to return in September or October to replant grass seeds that did not grow because of the summer heat.

“We've gotten a lot of resistance about coming back, but there's a planting season that happens, and we need to complete the planting during that season,” he said.

Yards filled with weeds are just one problem: Some residents report increased flooding and black mold in basements. A porch separated from a house.

John Oliver, 52, of Carnegie has spent $28,000, including $14,000 on a new roof, after a worker suggested the old roof could be at fault for flooding at the Franklin Avenue house his parents built.

He blames the Alcosan project.

“It's destroyed two summers of everybody's life, and it's still not complete,” said Oliver, who helps his sister Sandy Zielinski care for the house.

The flooding continues, Zielinski said.

“We just want it back the way it was,” Oliver said. “We want somebody to be held accountable and do the right thing.”

Nancy Barylak, an Alcosan spokeswoman, said the agency would continue to monitor residents' complaints and determine who is responsible for the problems.

Shideler said both Alcosan and Carnegie officials signed off on the project.

“I understand (residents) getting a little bit impatient, but unfortunately that's the way construction goes sometimes,” he said.

Adam Wagner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7956 or

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