SAUGUS — Town Meeting reallocated $90,000 to solve a nagging drainage problem at Riverside Cemetery.
The money, left over from other drainage projects over the past two decades, will help replace a 200-foot section of drain. The line, which is responsible for draining water from the Winter Street and Central Street areas, collapsed in the rear left section of the cemetery, according to a proposal from Town Manager Scott Crabtree. It needs to be replaced to allow for unimpeded flow. Doing this would also reduce the potential for backups and flooding associated with backups.
Under the existing conditions, the cemetery’s roadway is being undermined, which could cause a need for more significant and costly repairs.
More than $12,500 of the funding is leftover money designated for the Elm Street drainage project. The $1.2 million drainage project, sparked by a resident who was sick of pumping water from his basement, was completed earlier this year.
It included the construction and installation of large drain pipes up to 6 feet in diameter to redirect stormwater away from homes and into the Saugus River. It also included the pavement of Avalah Street, Innis Street and a portion of Elm Street.
The project was urged into existence by Innis Street resident Jack Perry, 81. He spent more than half his lifetime and upwards of $100,000 on preventing flood water from entering his home.
Perry started a petition as a last resort and collected nearly 40 signatures from neighbors who also experience flooding problems. They requested up to $1 million of taxpayer money at Town Meeting.
Perry’s intentions were to have a 30-inch drain on the bridge’s north side removed and install a drain on the south side.
Town Meeting signed off on $1.2 million to repair the problem in 2016.
A 2015 report by CDM Smith, a Boston-based engineering and construction firm, said the flooding occurred because of insufficient capacity in the culvert, or tunnel beneath the road. The drainage system was undersized and inadequate, according to the report.
Flooding was said to be particularly severe in areas along Alvah, Innis, Holland and Saville streets.
In 2014, Saugus received a $1.3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund a portion of the cost to remove the culvert, increase drainage along the street, and install additional catch basins.
Leftover funds from the Western Avenue storm drain replacement in 2009, the Dale Street drainage design in 2008, and the Howard and Clifton streets drainage project in 2006 will also be used.
In 2001, $1 million was appropriated for various storm drain repairs and nearly $42,000 was left over. That money will also go towards the cemetery project.