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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Sep. 4, 2019 2 weeks ago

Town commits to maintaining sand roads in Windermere

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Council members requested changes to a proposed project design to combat stormwater on two Windermere streets.
by: Hannah Swayze News Editor

At a Windermere Town Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 27, council members requested a stormwater drainage plan for two local roads that would maintain the town’s historic sand streets.

The council met for a special called meeting to decide whether to move forward with hiring Kimley-Horn and Associates, a civil engineering firm frequently used by the town to study the issues and design and construct plans for stormwater improvement on Butler and Bessie streets. 

Town Manager Robert Smith stressed that the proposal was on the agenda for council members to consider as an option for dealing with the issues on the sand streets regarding stormwater drainage runoff and flooding. 

“Every engineer will tell you the same thing when it comes to a paved roadway versus a dirt roadway: A paved roadway is going to win every time as a conveyance for stormwater and stormwater management,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I just said, ‘Oh yeah, let’s keep the dirt roads.’ I have to give them all the best options and go from there.”

The issues with the sand roads are familiar to all of the council members. Flooding and road washouts occur regularly during normal storms, demanding maintenance. The dirt roads also contribute to drainage issues on the town’s roads, which interrupts traffic in addition to the washouts on the roads where large ridges form on the streets. 

According to town documents, the town spends $196,000 annually to maintain the dirt roads, which require extensive routine maintenance several times a year and following all road washouts. 

Public Works Director Scott Brown said the point of the individual project order is to gather the data, look at the overall drainage basin and have a better idea of what options the town has to prevent the flooding and discharge into the lakes from the sand streets. 

Council members all agreed during the meeting that there are consistent issues but expressed the mutual desire to keep the sand streets, and to explore alternatives to paving the roads.  

“We’re not looking to pave,” Brown said. “We want to give the town what you want. And there are some other ideas out there and solutions we can bring to you and a lot of different product on the markets these days.”

Because of the residents’ desire to keep their sand roads, not only on Bessie and Butler streets but also throughout the town, council members directed staff to adjust the course of the study to maintaining the current roads. 

“The IPO is going to be amended to reflect just initial surveying, topography and environmental with the intent of maintaining dirt roads,” Smith said. 

Kimley-Horn and Associates and town staff will deliver a changed project proposal for council members to consider at the Town Council meeting Sept. 10.

Hannah Swayze is the News Editor at the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. She is former staff writer of the Johnson City Press in Johnson City, Tennessee. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University where she earned a bachelor's degree in media...

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