Dozens of residents turned out for the first in a series of meetings regarding city drainage and flooding issues.
The purpose of the meetings is to allow residents from all six city wards to comment on what drainage and flooding issues they see as most significant.
In October, the Lebanon City Council passed a measure to free reserve funds to address flooding after storms and heavy rainfall brought the drainage situation to a head. Councilors said they were inundated with calls about flooding in their districts.
At that meeting, Ward 3 Councilor Rob Cesternino proposed giving each ward $50,000 from reserves to address the problem. Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston countered with a motion to give each city ward $100,000 to work on flooding issues. The council ultimately voted in favor of releasing $600,000 from reserves to address flooding issues immediately. The measure passed handily on its second reading.
Thursday, residents from Wards 1 and 2 brought photos and stories of significant flooding near their homes.
Councilors Lanny Jewell and Fred Burton, representatives for Wards 1 and 2, respectively, each described flooding problems near their homes.
“The corner of Tennessee Boulevard and Sparta Pike -- Now, that one there got me this last big rain,” said Burton. “I had water completely surrounding my house; I couldn’t even come out. I was totally engulfed.”
“Over in [Ward 1], I know that we have a lot of areas, and it seems like it’s not so spotted; we have big areas,” said Jewell. “It starts at one end of the street and continues down the street.”
Resident Annie Ward said the flooding issue needs to be addressed for safety concerns, if for no other reason.
“The problem is kids are playing out there in that water,” said resident Annie Ward. “Years back, a child was drowned – it might’ve been two. I don’t want to see that again.”
Several residents described flooded yards, flooded houses and flooded storage buildings.
Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines cautioned residents that the city would have to prioritize the issues.
“If you’ve got water in your garage, water in your crawl space, that’s higher priority than water in your yard,” said Baines.
Areas where water is actually infiltrating homes will be more likely to receive attention than areas where there may be standing water that doesn’t necessarily pose a public hazard or damage homes.
After all the meetings have been held, city staff will review the areas of concern submitted by residents, visit those areas and make recommendations for those areas.
"This is an opportunity for people who have issues to get to the people who can affect change," said Councilor Rob Cesternino. "I think one of the things that government doesn't do well is communicate."
He said while councilors will be at their ward's respective meeting, it's not politicians who will make a difference.
"It will be up to Baines and the experts to prioritize what can and should be done with the $100,000 in each ward," said Cesternino. "I would think it would be good to unclog the drains and get the water moving."
He said once the drains are unclogged, then the city can get a clearer picture of what the real problems are.
"That's what I wanted the money for," he said.
Property owners are encouraged to attend the meeting planned for their respective ward. The meetings are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. and will be held at Lebanon City Hall at 200 North Castle Heights Ave. Wards Wards 3 and 4 will meet Jan. 17 and Wards 5 and 6 will meet Jan. 24.
Information regarding wards may be found at lebanontn.org. In the "government" menu, click on the "City Council" page for a Ward map. Citizens may also contact the engineering and planning offices at 615-444-3647 ext. 253, 261 or 272.
Those who are unable to attend one of the public meetings are encouraged to go to lebanontn.org/index.php/component/content/article/7-general-content/207-drainage and complete the drainage information form online and/or contact staff members at 615-444-3647 ext. 267.
Baines can be contacted directly at 615-443-2824 or email@example.com.