Oakmont Commons flooding solutions still under evaluation | TribLIVE.com
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Michael DiVittorio

Oakmont officials continue to work with engineers to find solutions to flooding problems in the Oakmont Commons neighborhood.

At least 20 borough property owners are still cleaning up after storms late July 21 into July 22.

Raising the elevation of the old Plum Creek railroad bed and widening a section of the Fourteenth Street ravine that intersects with Plum Creek were two options mentioned at a borough council meeting Monday night.

Actual elevations and other measurements were not available.

Council President William Benusa said it’s possible to reduce the amount of water flowing into the Commons during a heavy storm if those two things were accomplished.

“What we’re trying to address now is the bigger picture,” Benusa said. “There was so much water coming down from Plum borough so rapidly. That water has to go somewhere.”

That somewhere was the driveways and first floor rooms of multiple townhouses.

“I saw a stream I could go fly fishing in,” resident Harry Mundorff said. “Something has to be done, and not years from now.”

Other affected residents crowded council chambers for a second meeting this month to let elected leaders know what they experienced.

“I saw terror in the eyes of our neighbors,” resident Richard Bowman said. “My wife, granddaughter and I watched from the second floor of our townhome as the rain came down and the water rose. We saw it run into the first floor of our home and destroy irreplaceable family treasures.”

The Commons’ homeowners association hired Gateway Engineers to conduct a study to address stormwater issues and flooding concerns. That study was completed prior to the July storms. It was submitted a few weeks ago to Oakmont administrators and reviewed by Senate Engineering, the borough’s engineering company.

A list of recommendations was not revealed Monday night.

Borough Solicitor Kate Diersen said both engineering and legal teams from the borough and homeowners association will continue to work on finding solutions.

Property Manager Kelly Ligon said any recommendation to fix flooding in the Commons likely will not work unless the borough’s storm water system is improved.

There are French drains and catch basins within the Commons.

“The (homeowners association) will likely add to its common grounds system if it’s advised to by its engineering firm that those additions will benefit the residents,” Ligon said. “I don’t think that’s going to come if the borough system cannot provide proper final discharge to take the water out of the community.”

She also implored council to work with a property owner along Crystal Drive regarding a borough storm drain that empties onto a hillside by the Commons.

Borough Manager Scot Fodi said they have approached that property owner about an easement, and that person has declined.

After a few more residents came forward with their horror stories, Oakmont Commons Home Owners Association President Kim Butler expressed confidence in cooperation.

“Our engineers are available. Our board is available and we know you are, too,” Butler said. “We’re ready to have the next meeting and begin the process … We do hope that you will listen. That you will help and will save this development. It’s not all of Oakmont Commons, but there are specific areas that need help. You know who they are. You know where it is, and we do ask for assistance. This isn’t the last time we’ll be here.”

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