Selectboard ponders mysterious flooding on Park St. residences


BRANDON — Issues of mysterious flooding to several houses on Park Street dominated the select board meeting on Monday. Park Street resident Judy Bunde spoke with the board for over half an hour outlining the issues and trying to work with the board to come to some sort of resolution.

“This is not a little problem; it’s a big problem,” said Bunde about the issue affecting four homes on the south side of Park Street near the High Street intersection. 

According to Bunde, the problems began last spring following the completion of the Park Street renovation and the installation of the new bioswale drainage system. “Nothing in our homes has changed,” she said. “The only thing that’s changed is the street.”

The town has already investigated the bioswales and old storm drains nearby and has reviewed water usage records to try to find a leak. They’ve been able to rule out a sewage issue, but are still unable to point to anything specific that might be causing the problem. 

“We’ve exhausted our options,” Town Manager David Atherton said. “As far as we can tell, the flooding is not being caused by the town,” referring to the previous work renovating Park Street.

Park Street Project Engineer Jason Booth expressed similar frustration. “I’m at a loss to say what might be causing this,” he said. “We double-checked our daily logs from the construction period, and our records indicate that we reattached every water pipe.”

“The road is lower than before construction,” he continued, “and the soil along Park Street is sandy. That should make for excellent drainage. It’s possible that there’s a water leak from a higher elevation, but the usage records don’t support that.”

One hypothesis is that the removal of several mature maple trees last spring might be the culprit as they can drink up to ten thousand gallons of water annually, but that idea didn’t seem to make sense to Bunde. 

“My neighbor and I had flooding in our basements for 57 straight days this spring,” she said. “And during the recent pouring of four inches, my neighbor got five inches in his basement. I don’t see how the trees would have slowed all that down.”

“We’d like to be able to come up with a remediation plan,” she continued, “but it’s hard to think we’ll find one that works if we don’t know the source of the problem.”

Atherton reiterated the town’s stance. “We’d be more than willing to do something if we knew it was a town issue. Right now, we know the water isn’t coming from Park Street. The yards in the back are currently wet, but the front is dry. That’s not on the town.”

“Weather patterns have been changing, too,” he said. “We’re seeing flooding in places we haven’t seen the likes of since [tropical storm] Irene.”

Bunde said she and her neighbors weren’t opposed to footing the bill for an independent engineer but said they’d had a hard time finding one and that the cost and time concerns could be sprawling.
“We don’t know where to turn next,” she said. “We need help from the town.”

The discussion came to a close with some talk of Atherton using the town’s connections to put Bunde and her neighbors in contact with engineering firms who might be able to bring fresh eyes to an ongoing problem.

In other news from the meeting, the selectboard discussed and acted on:

Following last month’s vicious dog trial, the board voted unanimously to formally adopt the League of Cities and Town’s guidelines on dealing with vicious dog/wolf-hybrids. The board noted there was a positive outcome from the previous hearing in that the vicious dog in question was able to be re-homed by Passion 4 Paws and all sides of the event in question seemed to be generally pleased with the outcome.

David Roberts, board chair of the library, spoke on the need to maximize parking at the library. The board noted the compromised sight lines of a neighboring driveway (making it difficult to pull out onto Park Street) and agreed to look into the town’s options regarding repainting the road to add more spaces.

A unanimous vote was made to conditionally approve Naylor & Breen’s bid on the Brandon wastewater treatment project. There was some discussion about the complicated balancing act the town needs to undergo to address the project’s cost and the use of state and federal funds to help reduce costs to the local taxpayer.

Town Manager David Atherton mentioned in his report that he had a recent meeting with Pittsford Town Manager Brenda Fox-Howard, Rep. Stephanie Jerome, and Rep. Butch Shaw about drafting a letter to the Department of Agriculture seeking additional funding for Otter Creek Watershed Insect Control district’s larvicide spraying budget.

A resident of Champlain Street voiced concerns over issues drivers had navigating a new section of curb near the Brandon Baptist Church that was causing some blowouts and other safety issues. The board decided to extend the fog lines and a reflective delineator post at the curb.

Jim Emerson, chair of the Energy Committee, requested an additional $500-600 for promotional materials to be used during the Independence Day parade and beyond. It was the board and town manager’s position that they could not amend the budget at this point. It suggested that the energy committee seek to raise the money via independent fundraising efforts.

The board voted unanimously to lower the number of seats on the planning commission from eight to five. Town Manager David Atherton said that due to vacancies and expiring terms, the board was currently limited to three members and that by dropping the seats to five, they would at least have a quorum to do business until the new seats could be filled. 

Several new board and commission seats were appointed. The complete list can be found online at

Editor’s disclosure: Reporter Mat Clouser lives in one of the four residences affected by the flooding of their basements on Park Street.

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