Water saturates yards in Belle Meade

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 21, 2004

Lynn Wolfe, an engineer with ABMB Engineering, left, points out the problem areas in the back yard at 102 Landsdown Drive Thursday to Mayor Laurence Leyens and homeowner Neal Lewis.(Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[5/21/04]Some Belle Meade neighborhood residents say a city project to improve Porters Chapel Road has sent more water flowing through their back yards and want the city to spend $100,000 fixing it.

Mayor Laurence Leyens met with one homeowner Thursday to look at the problem. He said the city may not have created the situation, but that it is serious enough to justify the work.

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“I feel that we have a real problem that needs to be resolved,” Leyens said.

Water from Porters Chapel Road drains through the yards of about six properties, most along Montaign Drive. It flows through a culvert under Landsdown Drive, dumping in the back yard of Neal and Andrea Lewis, 102 Landsdown.

Neal Lewis said engineers who designed the project to rebuild Porters Chapel Road in the area and manage runoff did not take into account redirecting more water into his yard.

The $1.5 million project started two years ago in the area annexed into Vicksburg in 1990.

“If this had been thought about in the design this would not be happening,” Lewis said.

His back yard has become mostly a muddy bog, and there is a stagnant pond where the culvert drains. The big question for Lewis and others isn’t if the city will solve the problem, but how it will be fixed.

Two proposals were presented. One involves laying a second line parallel to the current culvert, increasing the volume of water. A second plan is to replace the 30-inch culvert with a 60-inch culvert.

The first plan would cost about $85,000 and engineers say it will correct the drainage problem, but Lewis said it would harm his land and property value. He said he wants the single, larger pipe, but officials say there might not be enough money for that this year.

“We thought we were going to have money left over from the Porters Chapel Road project, but there’s none left,” said South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman.

Leyens said one concern is timing. The current city administration ends next June, and state law prohibits the city from spending more than one-fourth of the annual budget in the last quarter of its terms.

That leaves only the next few months to get the work completed before this winter.

“If we keep micromanaging and adding to this project I’m afraid we’re going to lose the whole project,” Leyens said.

Leyens has asked ABMB Engineers to bring back the cost estimates for options to the original plan. He said that if the work can be done for under $100,000, he will support doing it with one pipe.

If it’s more than that, he said the city won’t do it.

“We want to make it right, but it’s something different if we’re talking about spending an extra $100,000 to improve one person’s property,” Leyens said.