Bath condo complex, Hyde School at odds over flooding

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BATH — Three units and at least two vehicles were damaged by water this week at Pine Hill Condominiums, the latest victims of chronic flooding problems at the complex.

Edie Lewis of Dirigo Management, who manages Pine Hill Condominiums, said on Tuesday that a snow bank, located by the property line of the condos and the Hyde School, had been holding back water from recent rainfall. That snow bank collapsed around 6 a.m. Monday morning, sending the water down toward the Pine Hill complex and resulting in flooding that was waist-deep in some areas.

The condos are located on Pine Hill Drive, off Richardson Street.

Lewis said flooding has occurred since 2005, ironically right after the condo association had paid $30,000 to have their drains cleaned and repaired.

“As far as I know, the flooding started because of new fields (and) new construction at Hyde,” she said.

Despite the work being done in compliance with Department of Environmental Protection rules, Lewis said “there is obviously some deficiency in the (drainage) system.”

The flooding occurs about three times a year, a malady Pine Hill is trying to resolve with Hyde School and the city, Lewis said.

“We’ve had our own engineers up there,” she said. “Pine Hill has paid tons of money, and they’re not a rich association, but they’re trying to just fix the situation.”

Lewis noted that the pumps required to alleviate the flooding are expensive – Pine Hill spent about $4,000 to deal with Monday’s situation – and that “we can’t even get flood insurance.”

Despite three pumps dealing with 4,000 gallons per minute, the water removal effort took all day, Lewis said. This most recent flooding caused the greatest damage yet, she said.

“It’s really just so frustrating and unnerving for … all the residents there,” Lewis said.

George Paton, facilities manager for Hyde and a civil engineer, on Tuesday said that there is a natural drainage basin that starts south of the campus, off the school’s property, and then runs across the campus. The flow runs past an athletic field and then toward the condos, he said.

“This drainage swale has been here for thousands of years,” Paton explained. “It’s a natural drainage course.”

He added that “(on) the part of the campus that contributes to that, there’ve been very minor changes since the campus was built. … We haven’t changed much in terms of the drainage flow.”

Paton argued that the condos were built in a low area, directly in the path of the drainage swale, and “right in harm’s way.”

He said he observed Monday’s flooding, and “it’s awful over there. It’s a terrible problem. But the water gets to their property, and then it can’t get off of their property, or it’s coming in faster than it can get off.”

Bath Public Works Director Peter Owen said that other than the issues at Pine Hill, there have been no flooding problems on Richardson Street. He said a pipeline from Pine Hill connects into the Richardson Street storm drain, and that the amount of water going into the system from Hyde School and Pine Hill has been an issue.

“This isn’t anything new,” he said.

One solution would be to build a larger pipeline on Richardson Street, to better handle the flow coming from the condos and school, Owen said. But it’s one of a long list of expensive projects for the city to address, he noted.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.