Like the sudden breach of a levee overcome by rising waters, longtime Maplewood Subdivision resident Cheryl Garner deluged the Rome City Public Works Committee Wednesday with more than 10 years of frustration over fluctuating water levels at her home across from Mitchell Lake.
“I realized my property could not take 10 more years of this kind of abuse,” Garner said to the committee to explain why she decided to present her case that day.
Having been left out of two previous public works committee meetings last year and in August when her property containing a 3/4-acre private pond known as Garner Pond was discussed, Garner came prepared with a PowerPoint presentation and a water management consultant.
Also in attendance was her Hood Drive neighbor Buzz Wachsteter, who expressed his own angst over flooding of his property he attributed partly to mitigation efforts on Garner’s property.
The entire subdivision adjacent to the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds and near the Etowah River is in a 100-year flood plain.
To make matters worse, otters and beavers have taken up residence in some areas, exacerbating drainage issues.
Garner told the committee that after Wachsteter had expressed concern to the committee about flooding in August 2018, she found a city crew digging on her property.
“The lack of communication has made a thoughtful, cooperative resolution harder to generate,” Garner said as she showed photos of how various efforts by the city have left trees around Garner Pond severely undercut by erosion while Mitchell Lake water levels have increased.
Wachsteter said he believes newer developments in the area have contributed to the erosion and runoff problems and Garner’s consultant Mark Crisp of Global Energy & Water Consulting agreed the additional homes have changed the hydrologic conditions.
Crisp told the committee there doesn’t seem to be any consistency in the way stormwater is dealt with there.
“The city unilaterally made the decision to funnel stormwater runoff through Garner Pond,” Crisp pointed out.
Wachsteter argued the city was trying to come up with a solution for the flooding of his front yard by keeping a drain installed at Garner Pond open.
Earlier this year, city engineers also presented Garner with the design for a 24-foot concrete spillway on her property as a possible solution to the water flow issues "as a goodwill gesture," City Manager Sammy Rich explained later.
Garner rejected the spillway idea, arguing it was unattractive and would ruin the aesthetics of her property.
Public Works officials pointed out that they tried to make it as easy as possible for Garner to keep the drain cleared herself and City Commissioners Randy Quick, Jamie Doss and Wendy Davis assured her they believed staff could come up with a solution that would please everyone.
But Garner was not convinced the city has done enough with her in mind and she vowed to continue fighting until she’s satisfied with a permanent solution.
“I need an independent analysis of the whole situation,” Garner said.