A citizen’s concern with flooding at her parents’ home — and the subsequent discussion on how to better address flooding there and in the town — highlighted a busy Tuesday night at the Cove City Council meeting.

Denise Merry addressed the council to bring up what has been a persistent issue for her parents, Bruce and Joyce Coates, who live on Ash Street in Cove. A city culvert feeds into a natural stream that cuts across a small portion of her parents’ property. The stream has flooded several times in the past 16 years, causing a high level of stress and expense for her parents, who are retired, and Merry was seeking an assessment from the council.

“This particular year (the flooding) was so serious...the crawl space was full of water,” Merry told the council. “They have had considerable stress and expense to deal with this issue. The same thing happened about four years ago to this extreme. There’s got to be a way to manage that water.”

Joyce Coates told the council it’s not the first time she has come to the city seeking help, pointing out that Mayor Del Little is the fourth mayor she has come before. She said in the past, she has not received adequate help for an issue that is beyond her control.

Coates pointed out, too, that there are no assigned water rights for what runs through her place and the adjacent properties, and she has had little luck getting help from neighbors, she said.

“There are two people above me and one on the other side that will not clean out their ditches,” she claimed, pointing out they have paid several thousand dollars for repairs through the years. “The water comes up to (our property) and there’s a curve where it all gets hung up. If (the ditches are) not clean, it backs up.”

Little said he and the city recorder, Donna Lewis, looked at the property following the most recent flooding. He said a neighbor’s adjacent fence, which crosses the stream, causes buildup on one end, and overgrowth at the point where it goes underground on another property adds to the backup.

He added, however, that the main source of the problem likely starts before those properties.

“The flooding, in my opinion, starts further outside the city,” he said. “The ditches aren’t clean. It’s hard to control the flow with the kind of runoff we have if everyone isn’t doing some kind of maintenance to keep them open....A combination of things cause the flooding. (There are) culverts that are different sizes that wouldn’t allow the flow. To me it’s a fairly extensive issue to
address.”

Merry said an assessment the last time her parents’ place saw extensive flooding came to a similar conclusion.

“(The) assessment (said) this whole issue began when (the city) diverted water at the highway. That created quite a bit of runoff into the city itself,” Merry said. “That is consistent with when this started.... (My parents) didn’t have any problems for four to five years, and in the past 10 to 12 years it’s been a major issue.”

The council made a decision to have public works conduct a study that would help the Coates family’s problem as soon as possible and also come up with a long term-solution. Public works is also researching an ordinance on how to manage the water in that area.

“Your idea of a study is a great idea,” Merry said. “It’ll get somebody to give you guys some advice. I would love that, and I’m sure my mom would too.”

In other action Tuesday, the council elected to postpone to a later meeting discussion of what has been a hotly debated sidewalk ordinance proposal. The council also discussed a draft of an ATV ordinance — crafted largely from ideas from a Burns and John Day ordinance — and elected to hold a work session prior to August’s meeting to set up for a possible first reading of the ordinance.

The council also unanimously voted in favor of hosting a soap box derby in August, unanimously approved of the city’s hiring of a part-time clerk, approved supportive funding for a musical performer at the Cove Cherry Fair and approved the wages of the city employees.

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