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Neighbors frustrated with water detention basin under construction in Mentor

Mentor panorama
Posted at 4:59 PM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 18:20:06-04

MENTOR, Ohio — A soon-to-be water detention basin is causing growing frustration for people in Mentor.

The Rice Detention Basin, situated between Chase Drive and Brooks Boulevard in the northwest part of the city, is intended to prevent people's yards from flooding. Dave Swiger, the city engineer, said approximately 132 properties would be protected by the basin when it's completed.

But neighbors in the area are frustrated by what was intended to be a "dry basin." Right now, standing water covers the depression in the ground, causing an eyesore just beyond people's backyards.

"It was trying to mitigate water issues on the street, but as of right now it’s not doing a whole lot but causing problems," said Josh Algeri, whose yard borders the basin.

Swiger said the project began in October and that the contractor, JTO, Inc., completed excavation work in November before taking a break for the winter and coming back in April to finish the work.

"We’ve had a lot of rain," Swiger said. "It’s been a very wet construction season, which has slowed down his ability to complete the project."

Of the standing water, Swiger said, "We've been experiencing a lot of groundwater seepage into the basin."

Swiger said the city is surveying the detention basin to determine the elevations of the basin were constructed as planned, as well as cleaning the storm sewer system downstream "to make sure that the water's flowing out as freely as possible to free up any of the standing water."

The project is still on track to be completed by June 28, as the contract dictates, Swiger said. He also said that shouldn't be an issue if the weather cooperates.

Nina Lohn, who has lived in the neighborhood for 23 years, said she liked the idea of the basin.

"My basement flooded once," Lohn said. "And my other neighbors, their basements flood. If it helps them, I don’t mind it."

However, she said many of her neighbors are frustrated with the standing water, the mud and the smell coming from the basin.

"It doesn’t bother me, cause if you look, I really can’t see it cause I plant a lot of stuff," Lohn said.

Josh Algeri expressed his frustration with the slow pace of the project.

"It’s stagnant water, and myself as well as other residents were complaining about it," Algeri said. "You know, worried about mosquitoes. A lot of us have put a lot of time and money into our homes and can’t enjoy the summer time with that."

Algeri said two children had taken down the construction fencing at some point to play in the water. The city engineer said the city had not made a decision on adding extra fencing around the basin due to the depth of the water, which he described as being about six inches deep.

Algeri said neighbors on his street and the other street hoped to see the project completed as soon as possible.

"If I knew this was going to be an issue when I had my fence put up, I would have obviously had a six-foot privacy fence put up," Algeri said. "Nobody really saw this coming."

JTO, Inc., the company working on the basin, directed News 5 to the city for comment. Swiger said the company's contract is for $390,000.

While Swiger said he expected the project to be completed in the next few weeks, any adjustments needed could add a couple of weeks to the completion date. He said he understood the frustration of residents and said the city is trying to eliminate standing water and finish the project quickly.