In Wardner, when it rains, it pours …
Into people’s yards.
The city’s problem is simple: After being paved, repaved, and repaved again, Main Street sits higher than many people’s lawns. In places, it’s 10 inches above the sidewalk.
“They just built it up,” said City Clerk Jo Ann Groves. “It creates quite a bit of a problem.”
On Tuesday, Wardner’s 248 residents will vote on whether to pay $102,000 to help lower their street. The money - about $52 annually per residence for 10 years - would be added to $900,000 the city hopes to gather in grants.
Groves said the bond would do three things:
Remove the city’s rating as a flood-plain area.
Channel lead-contaminated runoff from nearby mines and hills into the roadway, and prevent it from recontaminating “clean” lawns.
Improve parking and snowplowing.
“We’re going to have to do something with that road and it’s never going to get cheaper,” said retired pipefitter Glen Ogden.
One of the oldest cities in the Silver Valley, Wardner is built in a narrow canyon surrounded by nearly bare hills. Lowering the street would channel the water down the street.
As it is now, the water pools in yards and erodes the sides of the road. Residents have put concrete blocks, gravel and even sandbags in front of their yards to keep the water back.
A few years ago, the city spent $90,000 - nearly twice the annual budget - to install storm drains alongside the road. But Mayor Chuck Peterson said the drains don’t catch nearly as much water as people’s front lawns do.
A few times a year, people with flooded yards call Peterson. He gathers shovels, sandbags and some City Council members. They load the city backhoe with sand, then barricade lawns against the tide.
“That’s been going on since long before I was mayor,” Peterson said. “It’s part of the job.”
Peterson worries that the city won’t be able to find the rest of the money from state and local grants.
Marian Clark has the same worries, although the water’s been quite a problem for her.
When Clark moved in 20 years ago, she left her mobile home on its wheels to keep it above the water. But mud still poured under the home’s skirting, bending it in.
One day she left home for half an hour. When she returned, she said, “I stepped out of the car and the mud went over my shoes. It’s a mess.”
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