Weekly Feature

2017-08-10 / Front Page

Village business owners could pay for repairs to rotting culvert


Some business owners in the Village of East Aurora could be on the hook for repairs to the culvert for Tannery Brook.

After a large sinkhole formed in the parking lot of Mikey Dee’s on Main Street, village officials contacted engineers from Clark Patterson Lee to figure out what was causing the problem. Steven Tanner, senior associate with Clark Patterson Lee, said portions of the culvert are rotting due to an increase in rain this summer.

“There’s a little bit of a slope change where it transitions to a brook,” said Tanner. “And where that occurs, the bottom of the culvert pretty much just rotted right out because that culvert does run kind of seasonally.”

Tanner explained that because the water has been running nonstop this year, the metal pipe rusted and rotted.

Tanner said there are several solutions to the issue, which cost between $90,000 and $550,000. The cheapest of the repairs involves replacing the first 20 to 30 feet of pipes, which Tanner calls the worst area of damage to the pipe. However, he says that is a temporary solution.

“It’s just a matter of time before more of the bottom of that pipe begins to rot out. There’s 600 feet of pipe; I’d say two-thirds of it has holes in it.”

Tanner also suggested repairing the first 120 feet of pipe, or lining the pipe with reinforced concrete in a method known as spin casting. While Tanner said this option would preserve the culvert for another 30 years, it’s also the most expensive, with a price tag of $550,000.

However, due to a more than 30-year-old provision, the village would not be paying for the repairs.

According to Village Administrator Bryan Gazda, the Village Board formed a special district of business owners to pay for the project in 1987. Gazda said he spoke about the issue to John Pagliaccio, who served as the mayor of the village at the time.

“The work that was done for this was done to benefit off-street parking for various businesses in that area,” said Gazda. On Jan. 5, 1987, the special assessment district was created, and the 40-some business owners paid a total of $237,000 for the project. The district was also divided into three tiers, said Gazda, with businesses further from off-street parking paying less than those with convenient access to parking.

Gazda says he has reached out to Doug Goodfriend, the village’s bond counsel.

“We’re going to have to talk about this, but it’s his general opinion that the way things are set now, there’s a very good possibility the property owners will have to pay for the work on it,” Gazda said, who noted that the special district works the same as a sewer or water district.

“The property owners are responsible, and they pay for any repairs to be done on these things as time goes on.”

Village Board members agreed that they will have to consult with Village Attorney Robert Pierce for advice on how they should move forward, but they say that a public hearing will be held before any final decision is made.

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