Rosedale drainage fix appears closer


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Elizabeth City may be getting close to fixing long-running drainage problems in the Rosedale Drive area, despite a delay of action at last week’s city council meeting.

City staff asked to pull a potential contract award to Whitehurst Sand Company, of Hertford, from Monday’s meeting because they needed more information on the bids received, City Manager Rich Olson said after the meeting. Whitehurst had asked almost $200,000 to reinstall valley gutters that the city paved over about five years ago. City staff will present a new recommendation at the Feb. 21 finance committee meeting, he added.

The delayed award continues a wait for residents along Rosedale, as well as Rosebud and Rosewood Avenues. The city repaved those roads as part of a citywide resurfacing project that started in late 2013, and covered up their gutters in the process. Residents blamed the work for flooding and washing out their yards, leading to a town hall meeting in August of 2014 where they faulted the city for “fixing” something that wasn't broken.

The city's public utilities director then, Paul Fredette, said the change was an effort to save money, as preserving the gutters would have required lowering the road. After the city installed a French drain as an alternative, Fredette also recommended additional work, including catch basins, that was estimated to cost up to $84,500.

The fixes apparently didn't take. In last week's finance committee meeting, current Public Utilities Director Amanda Boone told councilors she agreed with residents that their drainage remains inadequate, and recommended restoring the gutters.

In a followup interview, Boone also said that, with the gutters restored, the French drain and other fixes the city did would have little impact on drainage there.

That raised the question of whether the fixes, ordered in 2014, were effectively a waste of money.

“I wasn't here at the time” and can't answer that, she said. Boone came to Elizabeth City in 2017 as its assistant public utilities director, and got promoted to director last year after Fredette's immediate successor, Joe Pearce, took another job.

In a separate interview, Olson said he would have to review the city's prior work before commenting on how effective it was. He also said he would have to research how much was ultimately spent on it.