Council takes up neighborhood's cause on flooding

Council takes up neighborhood's cause on flooding

A six-foot sinkhole. caused at least in part by continued flooding on Eliot Avenue, had been filled in last Friday. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

NORTH PROVIDENCE - After more than a year of complaints, town officials say help is on the way for Eliot Avenue and surrounding streets where residents are experiencing ongoing flooding problems.

At a meeting Tuesday, Town Council President Kristen Catanzaro proposed bringing in professional engineers as a first step in helping residents whose properties continue to sustain damage every time it rains heavily. The council sent a letter to Purchasing Agent Michael Mooney asking if the town has an engineer under contract, and another letter to Mayor Charles Lombardi requesting retention of a certified licensed engineer to study the issue. Catanzaro told neighbors that she's "not giving up" as she fights to make sure they finally get resolution to flooding problems in the Woodville neighborhood.

"It's a health and welfare issue for the neighborhood," said Catanzaro prior to the meeting.

Diane Coccia, the Eliot Avenue resident who has been lobbying town officials to help for years, has collected more than 60 of signatures from neighborhood residents demanding help for the flooding problems. Coccia said she and dozens of other residents from Knapp Avenue, Meola Street and other roads were planning to testify at Tuesday's council meeting. She said she's happy that it seems like town officials are finally listening.

Catanzaro said she's seen Coccia's videos showing a situation so bad that "the whole area floods" to such a level that you can "put a canoe in it." An engineering company should easily be able to determine why there are so many drainage and flooding problems when there weren't before, she said.

According to Catanzaro, residents of this neighborhood located across the street from Lowe's Home Improvement feel like "nothing's being done" to help them, and it's time to make something happen.

Coccia said she was also planning to bring an assortment of pictures to show officials how bad the situation in her neighborhood is. A six-foot sinkhole at the foot of her Eliot Avenue property was filled in late last week.

Mayor Charles Lombardi said he is supportive of bringing in engineers to determine the exact cause of all the flooding, which Coccia and her neighbors have blamed on a bad repaving job before Lombardi took office. The mayor said his administration continues to seek out options for addressing the problems.

"I'm hoping at the end of the day that things will get better for them," said Lombardi.

The Breeze reported a year ago that Coccia was losing pieces of her home due to continued flooding. She and her neighbors blame the problems on workers repaving over Eliot Avenue 10 years ago without first grinding down the old asphalt and on a town drainpipe running through some backyards that is never maintained.

Town officials have told The Breeze they have no documentation for when and how Eliot Avenue was repaired. Workers have installed asphalt berms at the end of driveways, but residents say they've done little or no good in keeping the water away from their homes.