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City officials make strides in resolving drainage issues

City officials continue their plan to solve the drainage issues in the city.

“There are drainage channels throughout the city—usually behind residential properties there will be a drainage channel which is part of the overall drainage system for the subdivision. In order for the drainage system to work in that subdivision, those need to be clear of debris, clear of mud, clear of trees or grass growing in there, and we have some in the city that haven’t been maintained,” explained Melissa Helsel, community development director. “If they are on city property, we maintain them, but if they are on private property, then the homeowner is responsible to maintain them and really the city shouldn’t be going on private property to do work anyway because if something were to then happen, the city would be responsible.”

City officials identified Castle Rock addition as the neighborhood with the most drainage issues that affected the most properties so it needed to be addressed first.

Officials notified 25 property owners that the drainage channel on their property would need to be cleaned up. The homeowners were given a 30 day notice to comply with the cleanup as of either June 7 or 8.

The properties were re-inspected by Shannon Hudson, code enforcement officer, on July 7. At that time, 12 property owners “had achieved compliance and were no longer in violation,” the July 28 City Manager’s Report read. Five property owners were in the process of complying and eight property owners hadn’t done anything.

Hudson returned to re-inspect the properties on July 20. As of July 20, all but three of the 25 property owners were in compliance. One citation was issued, one property was posted due to a change of ownership and one of the property owners was in the process of compliance.

Abatement was ordered on one property, compliance was achieved on one property and compliance was anticipated on the remaining property by Aug. 1, according to the report.

City Manager Tim Rooney previously said he felt sorry for some of the Castle Rock property owners because they didn’t know they owned the ditch.

“The only way that they can know that would be to pay attention when you purchase your property and look at your deed. Many people look at it and I think assume the city owns that because it’s a drainage structure, but we don’t,” Rooney previously said.

There are more drainage channels throughout the city that are on private property and need to be cleaned. The properties have been brought up to officials since the Castle Rock began, but Rooney decided it would be best to go through the entire cleanup process with Castle Rock before moving onto other neighborhoods.

“I agree with [Rooney],” Helsel previously said. “No. 1, you’re not double and tripling up the code enforcement officer. Also, if we can learn anything through this process to help us go through the next one more easily then we can use that information. Each process will be improved by what we’ve learned from the last one.”

Rooney said there are six additions in total that need to be cleaned up.

“I don’t know that the city has ever been that aggressive on this historically. I’ve only been here four years and I don’t know what occurred before that, but it’s a little overwhelming for one code enforcement officer to stay on top of that and also all the other things that are normally part of her job,” Rooney previously said. “And because it was the first one, I think we wanted to go through and say, ‘okay, did we make any kind of mistakes? What did we learn? What can we do differently?’ before we go into the next one.”

Officials will look at the different drainage issue areas and prioritize what neighborhood will come next and create a priority list from there.

“We’ll just do one a time because it is a lot of work,” Helsel said. “If the city had a drainage improvement fund and the money to keep all the drainage in town clear, it would be great, but then there’s the thing where it’s private property and really it should be the people’s responsibility who own the property where the drainage channel is.”

Ward II Councilman Josh Leete is interested in pairing residents who maybe don’t have the physical capabilities to work on their responsibilities themselves with volunteer groups who are willing to assist, Rooney said.

Contact Leete at 580-977-7731 or if interested in finding out more about help from volunteer groups.

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