A survey of the Oakmont Commons housing plan and nearby areas will be the next step in the borough’s efforts to combat flooding issues.
However, residents may not see construction of any possible solutions until spring.
Storms late July 21 into the next morning wreaked havoc on the Commons and other Allegheny County neighborhoods.
Residents have attended every council meeting since then, imploring Oakmont leaders to find flooding solutions.
Tuesday’s workshop meeting was no exception.
“Every time it thunders, every time there’s lightning in the sky, reports of a hurricane moving up the coast or a storm, the residents of Oakmont Commons are fearful that this is going to happen again,” resident Laurel Houck said. “We would like to remain residents of this borough. I ask that you would seriously not talk about this, but seriously do something and do it quickly before the fall rains come and we end up in this situation again.”
Borough Engineer Amber Yon of Senate Engineering told council she contacted three firms to analyze elevations and other measurements for the survey
“They provide us with topographic information that we need in order to model the impact of any improvements done in the flood plane,” Yon said.
A company is expected to be hired later this month to do the survey work. Estimated cost is between $15,000 and $20,000.
Yon said it may take two to three weeks at the earliest to complete the survey, and four more weeks to plug in the data and run simulations through software used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
It would create a model of Plum Creek and test different scenarios in the impacted areas.
A report may be submitted to the borough in late November or December.
Yon said resulting projects may need to go out for bid. That process, combined with weather, likely will push any major developments into spring.
“The borough is doing everything within their power to address the situation,” Yon said. “They are moving forward with their hired professionals as well as the Commons’ hired professionals. It’s not a matter of them sitting back at all. They’re taking all the necessary steps to move these things forward. These things don’t happen overnight.”
Raising the elevation of the old Plum Creek railroad bed, and removing debris from what’s colloquially called “leaf pile park” near the Commons were among the options discussed Tuesday.
“It’s an area that has been filled up with leaf debris and things collected in the street sweeper the borough has dumped in this area the last 50 years,” Yon said. “We would be removing that material.”
Councilman George Coulter said the borough has received tremendous cooperation from residents and the community’s’ homeowners association, and knows everyone wants to prevent more flooding.
“We all understand the hardship,” Coulter said. “There are things going on, a lot of cooperation going on between the Common’s board and this council with joint meetings and discussions about getting at the root of the problem. We’d like to help as much as we can working with everybody. It’s a bad situation.”
Council President William Benusa encouraged more residents to attend council meetings and bring their concerns before the borough.