Accidental river floods city park path

WATCH DOG

July 08, 2008|By LIZ F. KAY

THE PROBLEM // A broken pipe in Robert E. Lee Park caused water to pour down a path for more than a week.

THE BACKSTORY // Daniel Pugatsky, who walks his dog in Robert E. Lee Park, noticed water pouring out of a crack in a path just past the footbridge near the dam.

The Pikesville resident talked to friends who go there daily and learned it had been draining that way for at least three to four days. In late June, he called Baltimore's 311 system from the park to report the problem.

"I said, 'Well, if nobody's fixing it, then maybe nobody knows about it,'" Pugatsky said.

An orange cone was placed at the site a few days later, but the water continued to run, he said.

"I figured ... it's probably not a good idea to have an enormous river-size breakage," said Pugatsky, who called Watchdog about five days after calling 311.

The orange cone was still there July 1, Watchdog observed, but a stream of water continued to flow out of a crack in the path and down the asphalt. Water bubbled up under the pavement and down the embankment on both sides of the path.

Although in Baltimore County, Robert E. Lee Park includes Lake Roland, a city reservoir that was part of Baltimore's municipal water system in the 1800s, according to the Maryland Historical Trust. Today, the lake, its dam and other historic structures are part of the city parks system.

Watchdog contacted the city's departments of Public Works and Recreation and Parks last week to find out what happened.

Parks department spokeswoman Kia McLeod said the agency first learned about the problem July 1. According to the Department of Public Works, a pipe that feeds the restrooms was leaking.

She said the pipe needed to be replaced and the repair likely would be completed early this week.

Robert E. Lee Park is part of the Druid Hill Park division and is inspected monthly, McLeod wrote in an e-mail. No problems were detected during the last check June 16, she said. McLeod said the 311 call was reported to the Department of Public Works by June 30 and then forwarded to Recreation and Parks.

WHO CAN FIX THIS // John Lomax-Bey, acting park manager, Druid Hill Division. 410-396-6107. City residents can also call 311 to report problems.

Liz F. Kay

UPDATE

CSX Transportation has made some small repairs as part of a larger project to remove unused railroad tracks that cause Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills to dip near the intersection with Owings Mills Boulevard, said David Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration. Steve Wilkerson, one of the readers who first reported the issue to Watchdog, wrote in an e-mail that he saw a CSX crew remove the railroad crossing signs Sunday. However, the company has not scheduled time with the SHA to close the state road to complete the repairs. The work likely would take place over two weekends, with some lanes closed in either direction. SHA officials will ensure that CSX warns motorists at least two weeks before construction begins, Buck said.

Some readers wrote to express concern that the repairs would encourage people to disregard the speed limit.

"What will inevitably happen is that once the tracks are removed, people are going to start speeding through that area like crazy. This will prove especially dangerous when you take into account the presence of the railroad track overpass," wrote Daphne Hill, who said she has lived in the community for nearly three decades.

Buck, of SHA, pointed out that all decisions have residual effects.

"Just as when we resurface a road and have a smoother surface for drivers, we have to maintain the safest network of roads possible," he wrote in an e-mail.

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