Ahoskie citizen questions Council#8217;s decision

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 21, 2006

AHOSKIE – One Ahoskie resident refuses to let drainage problems in his neighborhood slip quietly into the night.

Hugh Moseley addressed the Ahoskie Town Council during last week’s meeting in regards to an old issue n drainage woes in his Baker Street neighborhood.

This isn’t the first time Ahoskie officials have been confronted with this particular issue from the same area of town.

Guerry Goode, one of Moseley’s neighbors, sought answers to the same problem when he stood before the Council at its April meeting. There, Goode, who has addressed the issue on numerous occasions, said the problem had been ongoing for 15 years or more, saying the drainage woes were connected to a series of ditches that he claimed were not properly maintained by the town.

At that April meeting, a possible solution was discussed, partly with using prison inmate labor to clean out the ditches plus a proposal to increase the size of the drainage pipe size to 48 inches on an 1,100-foot stretch of a ditch running from West Street to Outfall Swamp. That project was listed at $300,000, but town officials along with Ahoskie’s engineering firm were studying ways to cut that cost, hopefully by more than one-half.

However, Councilman Ronald Gatling said he wasn’t sold on the idea of spending more money in a neighborhood where, despite several attempts to solve the issue, the problem will not completely go away.

Gatling, at the April meeting, suggested the town’s engineering firm look at Ahoskie’s drainage issues as a whole before he would agree to spend “another dime” in the Baker Street area.

At its September meeting, Town Council members agreed to Gatling’s suggestion, tabling an issue that called for spending upwards to $170,000 in the Baker Street area neighborhood in lieu of ordering a town wide study of drainage problems.

“We’ve spent $468,000 over the years in that neighborhood and now we’re talking about spending more money on a problem that will persist,” Gatling said at the September meeting. “There are other areas of town that need to be studied.”

That prompted a response from Moseley at last week’s Council meeting.

“You had approved the 48-inch drainage pipe and then, in September, put it on hold for further study,” Moseley said. “We’ve had two studies that I know of and both said the (enlarged) pipe was needed.”

He continued, “Why can’t we have something done? I’ve got water coming under my house. We can’t do the whole town at one time so will you reconsider putting the pipe in that you previously approved?”

Town Manager Tony Hammond responded by saying, “Whatever we do there will not solve the problem. We can’t design a system big enough to drain the heavy rains associated with hurricanes and other big storms.”

In addition to blaming the town for not properly maintaining its drainage ditches, Moseley also pointed a finger at recent development on the north side of town as part of the problem.

“All that water now comes our way,” Moseley said. “It’s like a bathtub, the water comes down and stands in a bowl with nowhere to go.”

Moseley expressed concern over the Town Council’s decision to table the issue.

“By that, are you telling me that I’ve got to live with this problem,” Moseley asked. “I think the town created this problem for us and the town should take care of its problem.”

Hammond said the town budgets $100,000 annually to maintain its series of ditches. He added that a recent survey of the town’s ditches had indeed revealed some problem areas.

“But we can’t do the whole town for $100,000,” Hammond stated.

Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn told Moseley, who was accompanied by Goode at last week’s meeting, that the town will continue to study its drainage issues.