Saugus Town Meeting to vote on Elm Street flooding

SAUGUS – When it rains heavily, Elm Street residents brace for the deluge, knowing the precipitation could force sewage to back up into their homes.It’s a situation that needs a remedy, but its price tag requires a Town Meeting vote in May.According to Paul Ross, an engineer for Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM), the Cambridge firm hired to assess the project, the work will cost about $750,000.”That includes building a pump station in that neighborhood,” he said.Town Manager Andrew Bisignani said the problems on Elm Street are two-fold. “There are draining issues and sewage issues,” he said, explaining that the pump station is needed to stop sewage from entering homes.”When there is flooding in that area, it’s horrific,” he said. “I have been there and seen four feet of sewage and groundwater in people’s basements. That’s why we need the pump station. We need to address the sewage problem.”Bisignani said the town’s grants consultant is working with CDM on a funding application to the federal Emergency Management Administration to help pay for necessary drainage improvements in the Elm Street area.”We hope to have an answer back from the federal government by November,” he said. “The drainage work is separate from the pump station construction.”More than 20 homes are impacted by the area’s tendency to flood and become overwhelmed by the volume of sewage. “Those 20 homes are in the immediate vicinity, but when it floods, many more homes are affected,” the town manager said.Neighbors have put the number of families affected at more than 50.When rain and snow melt flood the Elm Street area, some of the conditions are due a damming affect caused by the Elm Street Bridge, a two-lane span about 70 feet long.”One of the things we have been discussing is removal of the Elm Street Bridge,” said Bisignani, explaining the structure is not vital to accessing the neighborhood. “If we take the bridge out, the water will flow better during heavy rains.”CDM will handle the engineering and, with the town, put out a request for proposals to open bidding and to ultimately select a contractor for both projects.Last summer, frustrated residents packed a Board of Selectmen meeting to vent their anger over conditions along Elm Street, which connects Central Street to Walnut Street. Some threatened to move from Saugus. Others simply asked for relief.Daniel Doherty was among the Elm Street residents armed with complaints. He told the selectmen his home has been flooded repeatedly during the past 15 years. Raw sewage destroyed his children’s bedrooms, he said.Doherty said he has lived on Elm Street for 22 years and is so fed up with the flooding that he contemplated moving from town.Selectmen last October asked the town manager to look into the flooding situation near the bridge. CDM examined the topography, began the grant application process and conducted a survey of residents to gauge the extent of the problem. Residents were asked to fill out the hand-delivered survey forms and return them to Town Hall.

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