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Westmoreland

Hempfield officials promise work on Stamford Drive ditch

Patrick Varine
| Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, 9:51 p.m.

When Carol Clayton moved to Stamford Drive in Hempfield’s West Point neighborhood about 40 years ago, kids used to sled down the hill and come to a safe stop in the small ditch behind her home.

Since 2008, stormwater runoff has turned what was once a small ditch into a gully that is 10 feet deep and a dozen feet wide in some places.

After years of planning, two re-designs and disputes between property owners, the township, state environmental officials, Stamford Drive residents —who have been losing more and more of their yards with each significant rainfall —may finally have a solution in sight.

Hempfield supervisors on Monday night directed their public works department to resume, at the very least, prep work in advance of building several retention ponds to collect storm water runoff.

In December 2017, union work crews began clearing part of the property that the township has acquired to address the problem, effectively making it a union project.

“If the union’s insisting on doing it, I think we need to move forward with the idea that it’s your project,” Supervisor Rob Ritson told public works head Douglas Cisco.

“I don’t feel we should be up there,” Cisco said. “If you tell us we need to do it, we’ll do it. But I don’t think we have the experience to do this type of pond building.”

Township supervisors released a statement on Tuesday noting they have full confidence in their public works department, and that Cisco was not suggesting his crew is not able to do the job.

“The statement was not made due to the lack of ability by our township crew, but more of our concern of recent events that increased our current workload, pending winter season upon us, and numerous jobs that are already on the schedule,” the statement read.

Supervisors’ consensus was to look into hiring a third- party project manager, “because we have two management-level employees who are tasked with clearing out roads over the winter, and I don’t want that to become an excuse.”

Several residents spoke at Monday night’s meeting in the hopes of getting something done.

“We need to move beyond what the DEP will or won’t allow,” said resident Mark Sobota. “What are we going to do to remediate this open hole in everyone’s backyard?”

Stamford resident Paul Gauthier agreed.

“Hempfield created this problem by allowing storm water runoff onto private property,” he said. “It is time for the Hempfield supervisors to step up to the plate and take action, or we’ll elect someone who will.”

Cisco said public-works crews would be at the site Tuesday morning clearing downed trees and doing preparatory work.

“We need to get this started,” Supervisor George Reese said. “We can get a project manager in there to run the project, but we need to get in there, get trees cleared and get some grading going.”

The board of supervisors will host a 6 p.m. work and discussion session Oct. 17 to discuss additional details about the project.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

Paul Gauthier of Hempfield looks over plans to address storm water runoff behind his home on Stamford Drive on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.
Paul Gauthier of Hempfield looks over plans to address storm water runoff behind his home on Stamford Drive on Monday, Sept. 24, 2018.
A gas line behind properties on Stamford Drive in Hempfield that has been exposed due to erosion from storm water runoff. Over the past decade, runoff has turned what was once a small ditch into a gully that is 10 feet deep and 12 feet wide in some places, residents said.
A gas line behind properties on Stamford Drive in Hempfield that has been exposed due to erosion from storm water runoff. Over the past decade, runoff has turned what was once a small ditch into a gully that is 10 feet deep and 12 feet wide in some places, residents said.
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