Oak Creek 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.”