By Cathy Mullens –(Published: July 20, 2017) Residents upset over May flooding asked why the town hasn’t done more to address drainage issues and accused the town of preferential treatment for some property owners.
Mayor Doug Brgoch, who was on scene at 5 a.m. during the May 9 high water situation, said floods are “acts of God” and the town isn’t responsible for flooding.
A group of property owners on Austin St., Cherry St., Mayfield St. and Cherry Ct. presented a letter that claimed as water began to flood their area and was headed toward Jerry Henson’s house, the town responded and cut a channel to divert the water flowing on Cherry St. into the Cucharas River.
Brgoch took exception to that version of events. “I was the one who ordered the crew out there and I had them to cut that trench there to get the water back into the river,” he said. “It was the most direct line to the river,” Brgoch said.
John Hudson, representing the aggrieved residents, said the drainage issues should have been addressed when the land was subdivided and said the town has a responsibility to protect the properties from flooding.
Brgoch said the land was subdivided in 1987 and the town knows there are problems with that area but there does not seem to be an easy solution. He explained the town has just completed a preliminary survey for drainage issues and that area is a problem.
“Basically, the river is on the wrong side of town,” Brgoch said, “the railroad moved the river back in the 1880’s and we’ve had problems ever since.” This board is working on solutions for things that have existed for over 100 years.
“We are asking for help,” Hudson said, “We have a serious problem.” Brgoch did not deny the problems but had no easy answers.
Brgoch told her the Dyer Ditch predates the town of La Veta and that there is seepage from ditches, it’s a recurring problem. “We have to live with it,” he said, “we’ve known about it for generations. It’s just what happens, it was exacerbated by the spring rains this year.” The town has no authority over the ditch, he said, that is up to the owners of the ditch.
Trustee Mickey Schmidt said “We’re unable to overcome these obstacles, there are sand rock drifts under that ditch, the water seeps right out, we kind of have to live with it.” Both men said the area on Birch St. where Wilkinson lives used to be pasture, there were no houses. “Floods occur,” Brgoch concluded, “it is what it is.”