After heavy rains, Cortland residents urge city to address flooding

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Several residents came to city hall Tuesday night urging lawmakers to address what they say is frequent and problematic flooding in their neighborhood.

The problem is worse now than ever before, according to resident Deborah Monty, who suggested the city allocate funds to pay for the cost of repairing storm drains.

Anita Parker, who lives on Garfield Street, said she has received conflicting explanations from city officials regarding the source of the problem for the poor drainage system on her street.

"It seems none of the parties that were involved have seen the damage that was happening,” Parker said. “They show up after it happened.”

Greenbush and Williams streets in Cortland on June 8 (Peter Blanchard/Cortland Voice)

Greenbush and Williams streets in Cortland on June 8

The city’s department of public works is aware of the issue but lacks the necessary personnel and equipment to properly mitigate the flooding, according to superintendent Chris Bistocchi.

Addressing city lawmakers and residents Tuesday night, Bistocchi also cited statistics from the National Weather Service that show Cortland has received more than 5 inches of rain since June 9.

Related: Cortland is second rainiest city in central New York

Bistocchi suggested the city hire an engineering firm to conduct a drainage study.

“Instead of just addressing the symptoms, which is the dry wells, this needs to be investigated on a greater scale," he said. "The storm system is in disrepair.”

Linda Ferguson, who serves on Cortland Common Council representing the city’s 7th ward, said she has also received several complaints of flooding and poor drainage from residents in other parts of the city. She agreed with Bistocchi that the city needs to address the underlying infrastructure of its storm drainage system.

“That might be a direction the city might have to go in,” she said. “We can’t have a whole city flooding every time it rains.”

Bistocchi said the department would need anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 to purchase new tools and equipment.

“You throw enough money at anything, you can fix it,” he said. “I suggest you open up your pocketbooks and see how much money it takes to fix it.”

Mayor Brian Tobin asked Bistocchi to provide a more precise cost estimate of the needed equipment before lawmakers decide to take any action.


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