HONESDALE, PA — With warmer days ahead, the Borough of Honesdale is facing another rainy season without immediate solutions to its stormwater problems. Increased rainfall each year, the …
HONESDALE, PA — With warmer days ahead, the Borough of Honesdale is facing another rainy season without immediate solutions to its stormwater problems. Increased rainfall each year, the area’s precipitous layout and the borough’s aging infrastructure together create a perfect storm of flooding woes. One resident, whose name was not announced publicly, said at the March 14 borough council meeting that he has had enough of waiting around.
“We have a major problem,” he said, referring to his property, which has faced considerable damage from flooding, like uprooted trees. “I can’t even walk in my backyard… Somebody’s got to figure this out soon; time is of the essence.”
Indicating that his patience was now razor thin, the resident also complained that Honesdale was no closer to a solution “than we were in September.”
Just before September of 2021, state legislators announced that Honesdale would be receiving $500,000 through the Department of Community and Economic Development to kickstart the “Vine Street stormwater mitigation project.”
Rep. Jonathan Fritz said that the project would include “140 densely populated acres” encompassing the Crestmont Development and the steep streets of Ridge and Terrace near Honesdale High School. “Once complete, the drainage area would have a more direct stormwater delivery to final daylight at the Lackawaxen River.”
“Our region is increasingly affected by severe weather events that overwhelm existing drainage capacity. The resultant flooding does damage to structures and facilities, requiring time and resources to repair,” said PA Sen. Lisa Baker at the time. “It is beyond inconvenient; the cost becomes even higher if people are injured or killed. Substances and debris washing into local streams adversely affect water quality and aquatic life.”
Honesdale has its own stormwater committee dedicated to tackling the issue, headed by councilors James Jennings and William McAllister. However, given the geography of the situation, they have said that it’s going to require action from more than just borough officials. They need cooperation from other stakeholders like the local school district and nearby Texas Township.
“You go just above us in Texas Township, the water’s pouring down through culvert pipes, across driveways, absolutely saturating my upper neighbor, absolutely saturating me,” the resident said. “Somebody has to help me. I’m really out of patience. I need to know when, how, where; but more than anything, I need to know it’s going to be [done] right. We don’t have years, we’re down to months.”
Council president James Hamill told him that they are still in the “find-a-solution phase, because we want to get it right as a borough… we want to do right by you and your neighbors.” He added that although it feels slow, the borough is actively working on bringing other stakeholders to the table.
Jennings said that the task force had scheduled such a meeting for the near future to work with these other entities, like the school district, Texas Township, state officials and the Wayne County Conservation District.
“My goal is to have your story and the story of [the Crestmont Development], and down through Vine Street and into Forest Street be the main feature of what we talk about at the task force meeting,” Jennings told the resident. “From a project perspective, from an awareness perspective, and also from a potential funding perspective, we’re working at it from all angles.”
Borough solicitor Richard Henry also offered assurance that though it might not feel like progress has been made on a surface level, things are in fact in the works.
“The council’s trying very, very hard to ascertain the specific source of this problem and address it, and the only way we can do it is [to] go outside the bounds of Honesdale Borough,” he said. Henry also added that at the next council meeting on March 28, Jennings will likely provide a report on how the task force meeting with outside stakeholders went.
During his mayor’s report, Derek Williams updated the council on the status of residents’ complaints that some local garbage collectors have been picking up trash outside of people’s homes earlier than technically allowed. The borough code states that pickups must be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The borough has already sent the garbage companies a letter reminding them of this rule. However, one hauler in particular has reportedly began working even earlier than 5 a.m.
McAllister said that he drove behind a GFL Environ-mental—formerly County Waste—truck at 4:30 a.m.
“That first letter that we put out put people on notice, and we thought we made some progress,” Williams said. “But there are a couple haulers who have returned to their practice of picking up super early in the morning.”
The mayor provided the council with another letter “with a little more vinegar” to send out to the repeat offenders. The letter has “more forceful language” indicating that “there won’t be a next time” and references consequences such as fines and revoking licenses for not following the borough code, according to the mayor and council president. The council agreed to send the letter out.
“The individual who has been bringing this to our attention deserves a resolution as soon as we humanly can do that,” Hamill said.
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