When the Elm Street area of Masury was torn up to install sidewalks over the summer, Lovie Swogger was none too happy.
She couldn’t use her driveway, and had to park across the street. The torn up terrain funneled water into her neighbor’s basement, which hadn’t flooded before.
“I had (township Trustee) Danny Suttles over here every day,” Swogger said.
The work just seemed to drag on and on, even though it was only about a week that she couldn’t use her driveway, she said.
But, now that the project is done, she’s happy.
“They did it right,” she said.
Not everyone in the neighborhood agrees with her – especially when it comes to the storm water work done between Second and Third streets – but the trustees hope residents will, over time, come to appreciate the Neighborhood Revitalization Project that paved roads, installed sidewalk, built a park and tried to improve storm water flow south and east of Route 62.
“Hopefully, when those people go to resell their house, they get more money for it than what they would have,” said Trustee Ron Haun.
The work was largely funded by a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant, federal money to address low-and moderate-income areas. Trumbull County submitted the grant application to the state of Ohio on behalf of the township.
“I think it’s beautified their neighborhood, and I hope the people that live there take the same pride in how we beautified it,” Haun said.
The project was a true partnership between residents – especially those who circulated income surveys and attended a public meeting – and township and county officials, said Trustee Gary Lees.
“How nice it looks,” Lees said. “I’m hoping that the residents take self-pride in, we’re talking about property maintenance, taking pride now that the expense has been put out there for that neighborhood.”
Of residents surveyed by NEWS On the Green, the street paving was universally praised.
“It’s nice to drive on the roads,” said Molly Reynolds of Third St., with Megan Krepps of Chestnut Street adding that her kids enjoy riding their bikes on the smoother roads.
John McPheron of Elm Street said the sidewalk project was “a mess” while it was underway but, now that that it’s done, “It looks like the sidewalks have been here all along. It came out pretty good, I think.”
Some residents think the storm water work has made flooding worse. Scott McIlvain of Second Street, above Miller Street, said the water is getting closer to his garage than it had been before the work.
“I don’t think it can handle the capacity,” he said of the work that was done, calling it “a joke.”
Reynolds, who also lives above Miller Street, said there seems to be more water pooling in her back yard and coming into her basement.
“When we have these heavy rains, everything gets pushed here,” she said. “It doesn’t go anywhere.”
Suttles said he also is not pleased by the storm water work that was done. He said fixing the drainage was his top priority in undertaking the project.
“We thought they were going to put in bigger lines going down Second Street,” he said. “Their engineers determined that wasn’t necessary.”
The Trumbull County Engineer’s Office hired GDP Group of Youngstown to design the storm sewer work.
While the trustees argued for wider-diameter pipe, “We didn’t have much control over that,” Suttles said.
Some of the large stones put in near the inlet to slow water flow and prevent erosion washed away, he added.
The trustees have talked about a three-prong approach to try to do a better job alleviating the flooding: cleaning out the ditch on Standard Avenue at the bottom of Second Street; doing more work on the inlet above Miller Street between Second and Third streets; and encouraging the Ohio Department of Transportation to divert the water that now runs off Route 62 into the neighborhood.
The county engineer’s office has agreed to clean out the ditch, even though it’s the state’s responsibility, but is running into right-of-way issues with a utility company, Suttles said. The township doesn’t have the proper equipment to undertake the work, he said.
Township Road Supt. Jaime Fredenburg came up with a plan to address the inlet above Miller. He wants to install “a sandstone-type step system where that water would come down and we’re gonna put a retaining wall up to try to alleviate some of that problem, number one, and, two, to make it more aesthetically pleasing to the resident whose yard they ended up being directly behind,” Suttles said.
Fredenburg has been off work with a health issue since that plan was introduced, which has prevented its undertaking, Suttles said.
“We wanted to have it done before it was cold, and that’s what we told the resident, and it didn’t happen,” Suttles said. “I understand their being upset, but it’s not like we disregarded it. It’s definitely on the plans to be done. I know, if I was on the other end, you hate to hear, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna do it, eventually,’ and it never gets done, but that’s something that’s a priority for us to do down there.”
“I really hope that they can do something, something to at least get this back here a little bit better,” Reynolds said. “It just, like, puddles right behind our garage.”
The pocket park features physical fitness equipment, but some residents said they are disappointed that it does not have swings, a slide, or other equipment geared to kids.
Krepps was very diplomatic in talking about the park.
“I have some different views,” she said. “I feel like they took away that yard where the kids played and they put a park there that’s not structured for children.”
Suttles said that Tim Taylor, who donated the property for the park, suggested the physical-fitness equipment.
“We figured, since he was donating the property, we thought that would be a nice gesture to do, what he’d think would be good for the property,” Suttles said.
The trustees also took into account the liability issues of having swings or a basketball court, and the close proximity of homes.
The park has benches and a free library, which could make it a spot where kids with or without their parents sit down to read a book, and the existence of the fitness equipment could “encourage those children to do some physical fitness,” Suttles said. “I’ve been by there in various times and seen people working out on there.”
Krepps said she also appreciates that people have used the fitness equipment.
“It has been nice seeing people are using it, now,” she said.