One Bedford couple said it happens year after year - their backyard and basement get flooded, even during average rainfall. The homeowners said the culprit is a nearby parking lot which funnels storm water onto their property.
Now their fence is rotting, their backyard is soggy and their basement sometimes seeps water. For Erin Tilocco, her family’s home on Elm Street has become their own personal nightmare — on Elm Street.
“It is very frustrating. It is depleting our property value,” Tilocco said. “It’s just an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.”
Tilocco and her husband moved into their home 12 years ago. Almost immediately, they began to notice storm water would meander its way from the nearby University Hospitals parking lot into their backyard. Then the storm water becomes a raging river that courses its way down their driveway and into the city’s sewer system.
Tilocco and her husband are both geologists, giving them unique insight into the sometimes finicky way water travels.
“We have sent the city and the hospital maps showing the flow direction of the water off of the property behind us that is the hospital parking lot,” Tilocco said. “We explained that it is illegal to discharge storm water onto other people’s properties.”
The parking lot contains asphalt curbs, which likely help direct some of the water to the multiple drains. However, Tilocco said it appears the part of the parking lot closest to her property slopes downward, possibly directing some of the water away from the drains and toward her home.
“Anything would help, like planting trees,” Tilocco said. “But, again, I think there’s something that needs to be done. They need to dig up the lot and make sure it’s uplifted and tilting not toward my home and put in a retention pond to fix the draining issue.”
The storm water has done a number on their fence, but that’s the least of her concerns. She said the onslaught of water causes leaks into the basement of her century-old home. The side entry door, which is at or just barely above the grade of the driveway, is routinely penetrated by water. In anticipation of the flooding, she or her husband have to put out a special containment boom in order to keep water out.
Bedford City Manager Michael Mallis said city inspectors have routinely been out to the site to visually inspect it, including the most recent inspection in 2017. While he understands and empathizes with Tilocco’s concerns, he said there isn’t much the city can do.
When the home was built in 1908, it was constructed on top of a creek. Additionally, the topography of the area directs storm water through Tilocco’s property. Mallis said these two factors largely explain the flooding issues.
Mallis added that University Hospital’s parking lot not only meets city code, but also surpasses it. City code requires parking lots larger than the one at UH to contain storm drains or catch basins. Even though UH’s lot doesn’t meet the size requirement, storm drains were installed anyway.
“Today, University Hospitals was alert of a homeowner's property near its Bedford hospital experiencing storm water issues,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “We have confirmed our parking lot adjacent to the property meets all code specifications. We will investigate further.”
Tilocco said she and her husband are looking to move out of the home. Selling it, however, will be a challenge, she said.
“We lost two sales of the home due to the flooding issues,” Tilocco said. “It’s probably not going to sell, no. We would have to disclose that we have issues with the hospital flooding.”