Plum officials plan to form a storm water management task force to address and prioritize flooding issues in the borough.
Members will include a public works supervisor, someone from borough engineer Robert Mitall’s office, council members and possibly another administrator.
The task force idea was discussed at Wednesday night’s workshop meeting by council Vice President David Seitz while officials discussed last month’s storms.
Storms late July 21 and into the next morning decimated several borough neighborhoods as well as other Allegheny County municipalities. Disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration are still available to those impacted by the storms.
“I think we need to turn it up a notch and go above and beyond to address this particular problem if we can, or find out if we can’t,” Seitz said. “The goal of the task force is to identify, prioritize and develop recommendations as well as possible solutions for the unknown and known storm water management issues.”
There would be monthly task force updates at council meetings to help keep the public informed. Reports may be posted on the borough’s website as well.
Councilman Dave Odom and Mitall recently walked Anderson Avenue to see how flooding impacted that area. Odom said he wants to be on the task force.
“I think what we ultimately need to do is go to some of these affected areas on a case by case basis,” Odom said. “Determine if something can be done, and prioritize the list of things that we actually can bring a solution to bear on. Then figure out how we can budget it and go off and implement it.
“There’s no other way to do it. You can’t do it all at the same time, and not every affected area we’re going to have a solution for. We at least have to go off and attempt to figure out if there is a solution and prioritize them accordingly so we can get them fixed.”
The task force presence may quell some of the calls, emails and social media posts borough Manager Michael Thomas said have been coming in about the flooding and Plum’s response to the storms. He said he understands residents’ frustration and urged patience while the borough continues to address their flooding concerns.
“We are working on this,” Thomas said. “The problem is a lot more complicated, a lot more involved than simply saying, ‘Go up there and take a look at this. See what we can do.’
“These people are very frustrated. We get that. The staff is a little bit burnt out over this issue and tired of some of the insults, the rude behavior of some of the people and some of the things that are said. I can attest to that because I am, too.”
Mitall addressed some requests that the borough clean out Plum Creek in an effort to prevent flooding.
He said any work beyond 50 feet up or down stream would require permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the borough cannot simply take shovels or equipment to the waterway.
Thomas said public works crews have tackled as many restoration projects as possible while performing their daily tasks, and there are about 54 storm water issues still outstanding.
He plans to authorize between $15,000 and $20,000 in overtime so crews can start cleaning Plum Creek Park across from the borough building along New Texas Road.
Seitz said that effort would help make the park safer and more aesthetically pleasing, but more work would be needed before the front four ball fields would be playable. Ball fields to the rear of the park are already viable.