Oak Creek public works employee Brian Wilson clears ice out of a channel along Sharp Street in Oak Creek on Saturday so water from a leaking town water pipe could flow to a drain.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Oak Creek public works employee Brian Wilson clears ice out of a channel along Sharp Street in Oak Creek on Saturday so water from a leaking town water pipe could flow to a drain.

Oak Creek water line break causes angst

Mayor says Public Works Department will fix line today


— Six to 8 inches of ice covered part of South Sharp Street in Oak Creek on Sunday, a slippery reminder of a water line leak some town residents say was reported Wednesday but not addressed in a timely manner.

Water from the leak extends from south of Oak Street in front of the old Methodist church at 301 S. Sharp St. to the railroad tracks north of Nancy Crawford Boulevard.

Scott Wedel, who co-owns the building at 201 S. Sharp St., said he first called the town’s public works emergency line Wednesday.

Wedel said Oak Creek public works employees dug that day and couldn’t find the leak. Wedel said they returned Thursday and scraped away ice that had frozen across Nancy Crawford Boulevard. On Saturday, after Wedel said he made several more calls to the emergency line and a call to the Oak Creek Police Department to request the street be closed, the employees returned.

The workers used a backhoe to dig a trench along the sidewalk that parallels South Sharp in an attempt to divert water away from the street. Cones were placed in front of the sidewalk along South Sharp, and a “Road closed” sign blocked the intersection of South Sharp and Nancy Crawford Boulevard after cars had gotten stuck in the ice the previous two days, Wedel said.

By Sunday, water had pooled and frozen halfway across South Sharp in front of Wedel’s building and at Nancy Crawford Boulevard. It also pooled and froze to block the alley just north of 215 S. Sharp St.

Wedel said water also leaked into the basement of his building, which houses a coin-operated laundry facility and 11 apartment units. Wedel said the water was pumped out Saturday afternoon with minimal damage to the basement’s contents.

In the nearly 10 years Wedel has owned the building, he said the basement hasn’t flooded, even during spring snowmelt.

Water continued to bubble from beneath the street Sunday, continuing to flow down and across South Sharp.

Wedel says the town hasn’t acted quickly enough.

“What I’m worried about, they had an ongoing situation they didn’t look at for two days,” Wedel said.

Oak Creek Mayor J Elliott said Public Works Director Bob Redding was in town Sunday evening and working on a temporary solution to stop the leak. Elliott said public works crews would return this morning to dig, locate and permanently fix the leak.

Elliott, who was out of town most of last week and returned Sunday afternoon, said he didn’t know why the leak wasn’t fixed sooner.

Redding couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.

On Saturday, a public works employee told the Steamboat Pilot & Today that the water line wasn’t turned off so that residents still would have running water in their homes and businesses.

Several Oak Creek residents expressed their concern Sunday with the town’s lack of response to fix the leak.

Kevin Doran and his wife, Christina, were watching the Denver Broncos game Sunday at Black Mountain Tavern, across the street from Wedel’s building at 201 S. Sharp. He said the icy street was a hazard not only for drivers, but pedestrians too.

“I understand them having enough time to fix it, but I can’t understand them not doing something about the safety issue,” he said.

Resident Bernard Gagne, who knows many of the nearby business owners, said it was his understanding that the Oak Creek Public Works Department tried to identify the leak and couldn’t. What Gagne said he didn’t understand was why it waited until after numerous cars had gotten stuck in the ice and residents complained about the leak to do something Saturday.

“If they can’t find and fix (the leak), they should address it as best they can,” he said. “They chose to ignore it. There’s no excuse for ignoring it.

“We have a skating rink a couple blocks that way,” Gagne said, pointing west. “We don’t need another one.”


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

I did not call the emergency line Wednesday. I called it late Thursday afternoon when the ice had gotten bad and cars had gotten stuck.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

Also, the primary concern was why, when there is so much water coming from the leak, that Public Works did not come out each day and clear out the build up of ice.

On Wednesday, I cut a clean path for the water to flow in front of my building and across Nancy Crawford Blvd. The water had spread out in that area and afterwords was running fine. But when I left around 5 pm, with the falling temps and falling snow, slush dams were already forming. I cleared them out one last time before leaving.

I got to Oak Creek around 2:30 pm Thursday. The whole area was under several inches of ice. I saw a car get stuck on Nancy Crawford trying to cross Sharp. Around 3:30 pm I called the Public Works emergency number. I also expressed my concern that ice was building up and was going to flood my building and that ice had reached the basement door of the apts in the old hospital building up the street. I was told they were aware of the problem and were working on it. A front loader showed up and cleared the build up of ice at Nancy Crawford and Sharp.

I did not go to Oak Creek on Friday. I am told by my tenants that they did not see Public Works any time that day clearing any ice.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

I got to Oak Creek around 3 pm on Saturday. A crew from the railroad was at the railroad crossing chipping ice from the tracks. They had already dug out the two storm drains on the east and west side of Sharp street. And cut a trench in the ice to help direct the water to the storm drain on the east side. A newer 4WD one ton pickup got stuck trying to cross Nancy Crawford. The people that helped him out said they had been pulling out cars all day. I had a few inches of water in my basement. A few more inches of water then the building loses heat and hot water. I was worried that I was going to have to evacuate the building that evening. I called the Public Works emergency number. I was told they would be there in an hour. Also, that they were aware of the problem and were working on it. An hour more of cars getting stuck was not acceptable. I called 911. They called police officer Lance whom shut down Nancy Crawford so no more cars would get stuck.

I also called Saw whom said he had to finish some stuff and would come with a pump and skid steer. He got there about when public works showed up.

I was livid that a public works dept that was "aware and working on it" had failed to do anything about it on Friday or Saturday until being called on their emergency number. It is beyond my comprehension how Public Works could be aware of a problem and be working on it and also have traveled far enough to take more than an hour to respond. The only way they could be telling the truth is if they considered that ice situation to be acceptable. There was no suggestion that they were working on any other emergency.

Then Public Works had the nerve to claim that it was only because people pushed snow into trench that it had backed up and formed ice dams. Since I have been clearing snow melt ice dams for 10 years there, I know they form naturally. Their formation is greatly helped by the fact that the drainage across Nancy Crawford Blvd is cracked all the way through and has frost heaved so that water pools and facilitates the build up of ice.

I got to Oak Creek about 11 am on Sunday. Despite no one pushing snow into their trench, a giant ice dam had formed uphill at the alley. Most the water was flowing into the frozen over trench, but some was flowing down the street and freezing. But it was not flowing into the basement and with half the street coned off, I had come to accept that OC Public Works consider that to be acceptable on an issue of which they were aware of and working on.

Though, from the article, it would appear that when Mayor J got back to town Sunday afternoon that he did agree it was acceptable.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 3 months ago

Just noticed that my previous post ended with a truncated typo.

Though, from the article, it would appear that when Mayor J got back to town Sunday afternoon that he did not agree it was acceptable and got Public Works out there that night to cut a trench through the ice dam.

I apologize to J and anyone else about the confusion caused by the typo. Hopefully, it was apparent that sentence did not make sense as typed ("Though, from the article" does not support the idea that J thought what public works was doing was okay because he got them out there that night).


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