Stella Cortese has lived at the end of Christine Lane in Masullo Estates for 37 years. She said she basically lives on a waterfront property because her land is always flooded. She has experienced six floods, her basement stinks all the time and everything has to be placed on shelves. When it’s hot her dehumidifier is on, when it rains her sump pump is on.
Town officials held an informal meeting with residents of the water-plagued Masullo Estates Tuesday, May 15, to discuss ways to solve the area’s drainage problems.
About 50 residents showed up for the meeting, along with four members of the Rotterdam Town Board including Supervisor Steven Tommasone, Robert Godlewski, Diane Marco and John Mertz.
The town set aside $250,000 a couple of years ago to repair the streets in Masullo Estates and install a new drainage system. In 2005, LaMont Engineers studied the area and proposed putting a new drainage system along Masullo Parkway from Guilderland Avenue to Christine Lane and up Lucille Lane.
Mertz said the scope of that project was too small to bring relief to the majority of the development’s 85 homes, most of which were built in the early 1960s. The plan was scrapped, and the town started looking at other options.
We can’t go another summer without putting a shovel in the ground. This is about the quality of life of the Masullo residents, he said.
Brett Steenburgh, the town-hired engineer for the project, had studied the area for about two weeks before coming up with three options he felt were the most practical and economical. At Tuesday’s meeting, he discussed those options, which include fixing the roads, improving drainage and possibly adding a sewer system.
Steenburgh said the roads in Masullo Estates show signs of severe subbase failure, probably due to the high water table and poor road standards when they were built. He recommended reconstructing all the roads except West Lucille Lane.
`The concern is spending a quarter of a million dollars on roads that will fail in two to five years and have to be ripped out and replaced,` Steenburgh said. The current roads are also 6 feet wider than the town’s standards and don’t have the required wing gutter.
The first option, and the one deemed least desirable to town officials, would be to spend $250,000 to overlay the worst portions of the roads and construct new storm sewers with drainage underneath the road in the front portion of Masullo Estates to mitigate groundwater problems.
He said this project could be completed this summer.
Steenburgh said by going with this option, the pavement would most likely break up in 12 months, drainage improvements would be minimal and not every home would benefit.
The second option would be to spend about $1.35 million to reconstruct the roads, install new drainage and lower the pipes under Guilderland Avenue.
Steenburgh said this option would provide a sump pump connection for all the homes in the development, reduce road maintenance costs and help road drainage because of the wing gutters.
The third option would cost about $1.5 million and would include the above improvements as well as the installation of dry sanitary sewers.
Steenburgh said installing the sewers while the roads were already torn up would result in major cost savings, coming in at three-quarters under the price of such a project normally.
Once the neighboring Helderberg Meadows development is complete, Masullo Estates residents could have the option of connecting to the town’s sewage treatment system through the dry sewer line. This option would allow the removal of all the septic systems. Steenburgh said the area’s 90 septic systems create the equivalent of 1 inch of rainfall a week to the contributing drainage area.
According to Steenburgh, none of the proposed options would completely eliminate the water problems residents face at Masullo Estates.
`The fact is, this development was built in a swamp,` he said.
While adding sewers was Steenburgh’s preferred option, resident Marlene Paccico of Masullo Parkway said she believes footing the bill for sewers would allow future development to come into the area, something she is wary of.
`Trust your government,` Tommasone responded. `Trust that we will allow proper development and preserve green space.`
Paccico said she doesn’t have a lot of trust in the Rotterdam government and Tuesday’s meeting didn’t provide the information she wanted. She also said the options residents were given wouldn’t provide any relief.
`We don’t want sewers, some of us may not even live long enough to see them. These plans aren’t offering a lot of relief,` she said.
This issue has even pitted Masullo residents against one another. Cortese said while she doesn’t trust town officials, she would like to see sewers.
`These folks will have to go through the same stuff I had to without them. They will spend all of their money on pumps and cleaning up their flooded basements,` she said.
As the meeting got more heated, Mertz put his foot down.
`Listen, as an attorney, I would have told all of you who bought homes in Masullo, buyer beware. This is not the town’s responsibility to fix this problem, but here we are fighting for the needed infrastructure to improve your quality of life. We are doing everything possible, including borrowing over $1 million, to help you,` he said.
Ultimately the decisions are up to the Masullo residents.
Mertz said the issue will be revisited at the town board’s Wednesday, May 23, meeting.
Tommasone said the town does have an obligation to help its residents and take care of the town’s roads.
`No matter where you go, every community has problems. This is one of ours,` he said.
Masullo residents will be mailed a survey about the options in the coming weeks.“