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Durham official: Flooding caused by culvert is not a 'city liability'

Posted May 28, 2011

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— The city of Durham is still debating whether it will fix a backed-up storm drain that has caused flooding at businesses on University Drive twice in two weeks.

Employees at Nana's Restaurant on University Drive said they had to leave the restaurant Friday because of flooding. Authorities said there was up to 8 inches of water inside the adjacent Rockwood Building. 

Scott Howell, who owns both buildings, said Friday that it was the worst flooding he has ever seen in the area. He said he is concerned that part of the Rockwood Building will collapse because it is built on top of a culvert in a flood plain.

"I'm sympathetic to Mr. Howell," said Ted Vorhees, assistant city manager. "He's done a lot of good renovating those buildings, but there are risks when you renovate an old building... It's private property. It's not a city liability, (but) we're trying to come up with a solution."

Earlier this month, Howell said he has been trying to work out a solution with the city for over six years. In 2006, he said, he signed a contract with the city to fix the drainage problem and made an initial payment of more than $1,800, but the work has still not been started.

City officials have blamed the delay on pending permits from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

In an email to other city council members Saturday, Councilman Eugene Brown said the city "(has) to act."

"This does not cast the city or NCDOT in a good light," the email states. "We cannot allow this to become the poster child for governmental inaction and ineptitude."

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  • btneast May 31, 2011

    This does not cast the city or NCDOT in a good light," the email states. "We cannot allow this to become the poster child for governmental inaction and ineptitude."

    a little late my friend, a little late....

    Yep...THIS is why Durham has such a bad rep.....no one will make any changes or make anything happen to set Durham on the right path......lot of talk, little action......unless it's a proclamation about fair treatment for the oppressed, mistreated or illegal immigrants.

  • FromClayton May 31, 2011

    "This does not cast the city or NCDOT in a good light," the email states. "We cannot allow this to become the poster child for governmental inaction and ineptitude."

    a little late my friend, a little late....

  • Reason85 May 30, 2011

    "Once again NC government demostrates it's ineptness while charging for perfection. Maybe if government consentrated on serving the taxpayers instead of getting reelected on promises to non taxpayers, we'd get our moneys worth."

    COULD NOT AGREE MORE.

  • Road-wearier May 30, 2011

    YOUR tax dollars at work...just a bunch of bureaucrats trying to pass the buck and dodge accountability. Pitiful.

  • chevybelair57sd May 30, 2011

    Once again NC government demostrates it's ineptness while charging for perfection. Maybe if government consentrated on serving the taxpayers instead of getting reelected on promises to non taxpayers, we'd get our moneys worth.

  • heelsrule May 30, 2011

    Once again the City of Durham shows how much concern it has for its citizens. Way to step up to the plate Durham.

  • ajfuddermukker May 30, 2011

    Let me see if I can get this straight. The culvert is supposedly on Durham city property,the city of Durham fails to keepnit clean and flowing properly and yet this is not a city of Durham liability?

  • wayneuber May 30, 2011

    A 6 year lapse demonstrates that the City of Durham and DOT have a broken system. It's been said that when a fish stinks, it stinks from the head first. If a landowner can't have closure within one flood season someone (a leader) needs to be fired or replaced.

  • Milkman May 30, 2011

    It wasn't a city responsibility until they signed a contract with the landowner and he paid the first payment, then any damage done if the contact was executed in a timely manner would not have been the city's responsibility, but 6 years isn't what I would call "timely manner" Durham should just take care of this the more they fight Howell, the worse they look.

  • SaveEnergyMan May 30, 2011

    It's easy to deny responsibilty, but the fact is that a contract was signed to handle this and a payment made. Three years have gone by without any work. That is not only excessive, it is negligant. The Durham and DOT engineers are likely registered Professional Engineers. I would pursue a complaint as their license is their professional life. Hit them where it hurts.

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