Marlinton Town Council Pressured To Reduce Storm Water Drainage

Marlinton, WV – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is pressuring municipalities across the state to reduce the amount of storm water drainage entering their sanitary sewers. Storm water entering sanitary sewers can cause overflows and pollute rivers.

The Town of Marlinton completed the first phase of a drainage upgrade project last summer and is now planning the second and final stage of the project, with a new engineering firm. Mayor Joe Smith tells council that engineer Dave Sharp, of Potesta and Associates, Inc. provided him a cost estimate for the engineering portion of the project.

“It’s part of this long-term sewage water/storm water control plan,” he said. “He is estimating, across the phone to me, that it will cost approximately $30,000 to do this report. He will be here sometime this month for a work session with the council.”

Smith tells council that the DEP rejected a report by previous town engineer Hannah Engineering, for the second phase of the project.

“It was done by Hannah and Associates and it was kicked back because DEP would not accept it,” he said. “It wasn’t detailed enough.”

Recorder Robin Mutscheller says the town should investigate remedies if Hannah’s report was substandard.

“We might want to check the contract language,” she said. “It seems, if we paid for a plan – if we paid an engineer to develop a plan that’s substandard, is there any recourse?”

The mayor said he would call a special meeting when Sharp is ready to brief council on the details of the report.

During a public comment period, Nelson Hernandez asked council about the status of the town’s housing authority, which is charged with remediation of blighted properties. Smith tells Hernandez that he spoke with housing authority chairman Fred Burns, Jr., who said the authority is dissatisfied with the services of town attorney Martin Saffer.

“They have some things in the making, he did say,” he said. “But, it all boils down to legalities and they don’t seem to be able to figure out their legal ground. They’re hoping that another attorney can be found for them because they’re not happy with the information they’re receiving.”

The mayor said the housing authority is an independent body, falling under state law, but that he would try to obtain more information on the authority’s plans.
Smith told council he received information from Senator Joe Manchin on the status of the Marlinton flood protection project. The mayor said he was unable to get information directly from the Corps of Engineers and requested help from the senator. Manchin forwarded a letter from Huntington District Engineer Colonel Robert Peterson with details on the project status.

The letter reads, in part:

“The cost of the Marlinton Local Protection Project is documented in the Detailed Project Report and the current baseline estimate for completion of the project is $189 million, including inflation. However, the Marlinton Local Protection Project does not have a positive benefit-to-cost ratio and therefore is not supported by the current Administration policy. As such, the Corps does not recommend or budget for this project.”

Congress can fund the project through annual appropriations, or earmarks, but has not provided funding for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

In other business, Marlinton council:

– unanimously approved the first reading of a town parking ordinance, which codifies the existing informal policy of free downtown parking for two hours between 6 a.m and 8 p.m

– appointed councilmembers David Zorn and Natasha McMann to a committee to study a town policy on Marcellus shale gas drilling

– went into executive session to discuss real estate negotiations involving Courtney Avenue. After resuming open session, council voted 6-0 to continue negotiations, through the town attorney, with Dr. John Mallow

The next regular meeting of Marlinton council is scheduled for February 6 at 7 p.m.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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