When Rains Pour Down, Geysers Spurt In Yards

April 21, 1991|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff writer

NEW WINDSOR — Geysers might attract tourists, but nobody wants one in his back yard.

The geysers on Charles W. Fritz's Church Street property are not a natural phenomenon. They spurt from inadequate pipes.

For several years now, sudden or prolonged downpours regularly transform Fritz's yard into a pond with 3 feet of water and gushers 4-feet high.

Two parallel pipes run through the yard from Spoerlein Alley and empty into the street, but Fritz said the pipes are not big enough to carry heavy water flow.

"The pressure blows the water out between the joints," said Fritz. "The water shoots up through the pipes like a geyser."

Even when the water dries, the yard is pockedwith large holes, which take several wheelbarrow loads of dirt to fill, he said.

Fortunately, Fritz said, a hill at the back of his house prevents the water from flooding his basement. His neighbor is not so lucky, he added, and often has to deal with water in his home.

Fritz and his neighbor are not the only Church Street residents who shudder as storm clouds gather.

The distribution building of theNew Windsor Service Center usually has a "pond of standing water" onits lawn after every heavy rain, said D. Miller Davis, director of operations.

"The grass takes a long time to dry," he said. "We haveproblems mowing it."

Steven C. Horn, county planner, said the street has serious drainage problems, causing ponding and damage to somefoundations and basements.

The town is trying to solve its storm water drainage problems -- with a little help from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Horn and town officials are applying for a state grant to pay for improvements to the storm drain. Horn said he will cite the low and moderate income of the residents as reasons for obtaining the grant.

Deadline for the application is April 30. Before mailing the application to Annapolis, the townwill conduct a public information session at 7 p.m. Monday in the Town Hall.

Residents will have an opportunity to read and comment onthe application at a hearing immediately afterward.

Mayor James C. Carlisle said he supports the effort.

"The drainage problem justkeeps getting worse," he said. "The ground sinks a little more each spring."

Buchart Horn Inc., a Baltimore engineering company, estimated the total cost of repairs to be about $180,000.

If the town receives grant money, it still would have to pay about 25 percent of the total cost of the project, as well as agree to the state's terms for administering the block grant, Horn said. Grants are awarded through a competitive process.

"Given the state's budget constraints, there is a pretty big 'if' to the town's getting this grant," he added. "We just have to get in line and hope for the best."

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