BERLIN– Municipal officials reviewed a map of the town’s ditches this week.
On Monday, a representative of EA Engineering reviewed a map of the town’s stormwater ditches with elected officials in Berlin. The presentation came after concerns from Councilman Dean Burrell about ditch maintenance responsibilities, particularly for the town’s elderly residents.
“We are depending on senior citizens with limited resources to maintain these ditches,” Burrell said. “This being part of such a delicate system, do we want that responsibility on our senior citizens? That’s my concern.”
Andrew Lemasters of EA Engineering presented the council on Monday with a map of ditches within the town’s corporate limits. He said it was primarily based on information from a 2006 Army Corps of Engineers study.
Mayor Zack Tyndall said it would show residents which ditches were the town’s responsibility.
Burrell said the reason he’d brought up the ditch issue was because he’d been approached by a 91-year-old resident who wasn’t able to clear the ditch adjacent to his property.
“Physically he’s not able to maintain that ditch. Nor is he able to maintain that ditch financially,” Burrell said. “This is , I feel can be a concern all over town.”
He said that the ditches in town were all part of the stormwater system, a system that would suffer if some residents didn’t or weren’t able to maintain their ditches.
“Ultimately in my opinion it would be up to the town to set their own rules, regulations,” Lemasters said.
Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said taking on private ditch maintenance would require more equipment and more personnel. The town would also need to require right of way agreements.
“It becomes a very complicated issue,” she said. “At this point we do not have the equipment or personnel.”
Burrell said if it was complicated for the town it was even more difficult for an elderly resident.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.
Tyndall said a micro grant program could be set up to address the issue. He also suggested reaching out to community partners to see if there were any existing resources available.
Councilwoman Shaneka Nichols suggested MAC Inc. be consulted.
Tyndall said options could be reviewed and shared with the public.
“Perhaps we could come up with a list of resources that may be helpful,” Tyndall said.