Middleton Gardens owners ask city for help in preventing sewer backups

Photo by Meg Hibbert
Middle Gardens property owner Jenny Coleman talks with Salem City Manager Jay Taliaferro about concerns over sewage backing up into homes after heavy rains.

Meg Hibbert
Contributing writer

Owners concerned about sewage backup into homes after heavy rains in the Middleton Gardens area are asking for help from the city.

A petition signed by 15 property owners was presented to Council Monday night by Jenny Coleman during the citizen comment period.

She and others are asking for monetary reimbursement to put in backflow water valves and other safeguards in their neighborhood.

Coleman told Council the difficulty has been going on for at least 15 years, and despite city promises to improve the size of sewer lines and other aspects the backups and resulting property damages to basements are still going on.

Larado Robinson, director of water and sewer, explained that the city has agreed to pay owners up to $2,000 to put in the valves, and that the Middleton Gardens section is scheduled to be upgraded in three to five years.

Robinson said the valves are designed to prevent water from backing up into homes.

That’s not soon enough for owners who have to rip out carpeting and flooring and replace furnishings after heavy rains, such as those that happened last month.

Councilman Bill Jones asked city staff to look into the situation, and Mayor Renee Turk told Coleman and other residents at the meeting that “We understand and work diligently on it.”

In other matters, Council:

  • Heard ideas to sell the former Carilion Clinic Building that sits on 2.68 acres at 2102 W. Main. Although it was a public hearing, no one spoke. Council will have a chance to approve any sale when specific proposals are brought later, City Counsel Steve Yost explained.
  • Approved $68,918 from the Council of Emergency Services that will be used to pay for four cardiac monitors for use by the city’s paid Emergency Services. The city will provide a 50 percent match.
  • Approved a soil and erosion bond of $10,098 for construction of a Patel residence in the 700 block High Street. Councilman Randy Foley asked why the city was being asked to approve a soil and erosion bond for a private residence. Community Development Director Chuck van Allman explained the property is unusually large, 29 acres and a really big residence.
  • Approved carryover Storm Water Management Funds of $43,000 from last year’s budget.
  • Approved WanderCare marketing grant funds earmarked for organizations affected by the pandemic. The city’s match will come from $10,000 inkind funds already appropriated, City Manager Jay Taliaferro explained.

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