Oak Creek Public Works Department employee Rocky Wisecup works on an underdrain along South Sharp Street in Oak Creek on Monday. Water leaking from the pipe has flooded parts of the street and has left an icy mess in its wake.

Photo by John F. Russell

Oak Creek Public Works Department employee Rocky Wisecup works on an underdrain along South Sharp Street in Oak Creek on Monday. Water leaking from the pipe has flooded parts of the street and has left an icy mess in its wake.

No quick fix for water leak in Oak Creek

Officials say water leak has persisted since spring

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Water leaking from a underdrain is redirected in front of the old Methodist church at 301 S. Sharp St. as Oak Creek Public Works Department employees work on repairing the problem.

— The water leak that resulted in a sheet of ice covering much of South Sharp Street in Oak Creek was repaired Monday. Keeping the leak from bursting again might be a bigger issue.

Oak Creek Public Works Department employees dug into the street in front of the old Methodist church at 301 S. Sharp St. on Monday to make repairs to an underdrain that has caused the town problems all year, Public Works Director Bob Redding said.

Redding said Monday’s repair was the third or fourth time the department has repaired the drain — a 4-inch plastic perforated pipe that collects groundwater and takes it to the creek north of the railroad tracks — since the spring.

The drain was discovered when the town was finishing installation of a new sewer main in the summer, he said. Redding said he doesn’t know where the pipe begins because it’s not in any city plans. Because he doesn’t know where it begins, Redding said the department is having problems identifying the source of the problem.

Redding said the town is working on grant applications to install new water lines. Until then, he said his department will continue to monitor the drain for future leaks. As for the current leak, Redding says it has been fixed.

“It will be done, fixed,” he said early Monday afternoon. “We’ll be out of here, and it will be back to normal.”

In addition, Redding said Public Works employees would scrape and remove the ice that built up on the street and sidewalk as a result of the leak.

The leak, which started south of Oak Street, became a problem when it began moving north along South Sharp Street, past Nancy Crawford Boulevard — where it pooled and froze causing several cars to get stuck — and on to the railroad tracks.

Redding said Public Works employees first noticed the leak Wednesday on the old Methodist church property, but they couldn’t identify where it was coming from. He said the leak then began to “trickle” from beneath South Sharp Street in front of the church.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Redding said. “It got progressively worse.”

By the weekend, the water had frozen halfway across South Sharp Street in spots and made the intersection at Nancy Crawford Boulevard impassible.

Resident Scott Wedel started calling the town’s public works emergency line Thursday.

On Saturday, public works employees dug a trench along the sidewalk on South Sharp Street in an attempt to keep the water out of the street. Cones also were placed along the east side of South Sharp Street, and “Road closed” signs blocked the intersection at Nancy Crawford Boulevard.

Wedel has been critical of the Public Works Department for not fixing the leak earlier.

Redding, who was out of town from Tuesday to Sunday, said he asked his employees to keep an eye on the leak. He said they did. But, Redding added, had he been in town when water started leaking into the street, they “probably” would have dug last week to fix it.

Oak Creek May­­or J Elliott said the leak and the Public Works Depart­­ment’s re­­spon­se to it might be addres­sed at a future Town Board meeting.

Elliott said because the drain has caused so many issues, the town would continue to monitor it and work to find a permanent solution, but that may not happen until the spring.

“We’ll get her handled,” he said. “It’s just a matter when we can work on it the easiest. But with this cold weather, it’s tough.”

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

He said the leak then began to “trickle” from beneath South Sharp Street in front of the church.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Redding said. “It got progressively worse.”

The water flow was a large flow as of Wednesday at 3:30 pm. To the extent that it got worse then it may have changed from 5 gallons per minute to 10 gpm, From when they quit working on it Wednesday until it was fixed on Monday, it was never anything less than a lot of water.

It had already gotten so progressively worse by Thursday that the ice build up was so bad that Public Works took out the frontloader and cleared ice. And at that time they had to have seen how much water was flowing.

And yet, after seeing how much water was flowing they did not come out and, if not able to fix it, at least remove ice and cut trenches to allow the water to flow Friday or early Saturday. No, they somehow thought the massive ice issues were acceptable and made no effort to either inspect or clear them until emergency calls were made late Saturday afternoon.

Public Works should be ashamed that it was the railroad crews that came out Saturday and cleared the drains at the bottom of Sharp St and had the common sense to come out again Sunday to once again clear those drains. Meanwhile, on Sunday, there was no hint of Public Works until an hour or so after J got back to Town.

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honestabe 4 years, 11 months ago

Scott, its oak creek, there are pipe and water issues that arent currently an easy fix, they dont even know where some of the pipes are. How should they find that all out? Just work harder, or is possible more money is needed to fix the issues. I believe i have heard you whining/stammering about how you (a non-resident, business owner) should be paying LESS for water and services. You should be ashamed of your insults (calling pub works liars) and unacceptable behavior/antics. Where do you get your gallons per minute quotes (fully imagined and made up i'd guess, correct me if im wrong. Do you think Bob should skip christmas and work 24/7? Oak Creek isnt perfect, though you expect it, and the Public Works should be commended for often if not always doing a great job. Tell us great Scott, is there anything you approve of or like in the town of Oak Creek?

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greenwash 4 years, 11 months ago

Abe is correct...What do you expect ..Its Oak Creek.

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kathy foos 4 years, 11 months ago

Oak creek has been diligently working toward finding the old lines and updating everything for years,g.p.s. cleaning repair as they can ,its something on going and they are not an apathetic bunch at all,If we were in Arizonia it would be easier to deal with because of the weather I would say that because it was Oak Creek,maybe it got more attention than it would have some where else.What is wrong with the Railroad having to do some maintinence?They are well equiped for it,after all the trains goes right smack dab through town and the noise through every ones house.People wait on trains to get to where they are going and have to worry about cars getting onto the tracks pets and people.They work it all out to make that town and its kind of a cowboy up proposition to answer the challenges,If you had any idea about how confusing those old lines are you might cut them a break.

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max huppert 4 years, 11 months ago

Scott, you should have came up with a business plan to make profit from the situation, could have had a bob sled track put in then Oak Creek could have a team like those Jamaican's.

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MsRed 4 years, 11 months ago

As I recall the town is very aware of the problems with the old water & sewer lines in OC. and the reason Cargo was working on grants for the town- to address the expensive issues surrounding these old lines. OC cannot (itself) afford to dig up and replace all these old lines- and as previously stated: they don’t even know where some start & end. If you live in OC you are going to have to deal with it or move.

Complaining about it (Scott) will not resolve the issue- maybe you could offer to help research how to best solve the problem, instead you add to it.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

It is one thing to have a leak that you are not able to fix. Stuff happens.

It is quite another thing to ignore that the leaking water is causing ice dams and making streets dangerous. Once Public Works was called and responded on Thursday, they knew that a lot of water was leaking and forming ice dams.

Friday, being Christmas, it is plausible that Public Works was not going to come out for anything other than a life or death emergency.

But their inaction Saturday is inexplicable. They had good reasons to believe that the running water could have resulted in issues that needed to be addressed. Any competent dept would have had someone at least drive by to make sure things were okay. And their response to my emergency call was that they were an hour out. So somehow they managed to leave town and did so without seeing that there was a huge issue at a primary cross street a block from Main St/hwy 131.

And then, after cutting a long trench into the ice Saturday evening so that the water could flow, they ignored it again Sunday until Mayor J got back and got them to cut the building ice dam at the alley. If J had not come back Sunday then it would have been a bigger mess Monday morning that it was Saturday.

They didn't need to fix the water leak, but they needed to cut through the ice dams so that the running water did not flood.

I note that Bob Redding said that it should have been fixed earlier.

So the solution to this problem would appear to be that Mayor J and Bob Redding cannot both be out of town for more than one day. And if Bob Redding does go out of town then Public Works needs a completely different decision making process that what they had over that weekend. Presumably, the on call person should be required to review all situations with a more experienced person so that inept inaction cannot happen again.

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honestabe 4 years, 11 months ago

scott, are the mayor and bob paid enough to be present 24/7? what if it required the raising of your taxes and water rates?Are they paid to be called inept and incompetent? to cater to your every whim? was anyone hurt in this "wedel" declared emergency? just questions...

I dont mean to minimize your complaints, it seems the public works dept may have been less than perfect in this case, You note that bob admitted to not fixing things earlier. Scott, do you think you are more qualified to deal with public works decisions than bob or any other employees there? If your answer is yes, you have the time and are willing to take the pay, apply for the job next time. or move to town, get on the town board, and you can be one of their bosses. or just yell louder and more often

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upstream 4 years, 11 months ago

scott cries if you call him out for his disgusting properties and offensive tirades, but does not hesitate to rail off at and about our town employees with abandon. Arrogant and obnoxious are 2 words that come immediately to mind.

scott- get it through your head- life in oak creek is not a conspiracy against you and your twisted capitalistic ventures. our town employees and elected representatives work hard to keep a whole lot of broken plates in the air- and while they certainly make mistakes, they all deserve a little more respect than you seem capable of giving them.

get over it (or perhaps you can whip up another frenzy of "business owners" and run someone else out of town).

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honestabe 4 years, 11 months ago

upstream- i personally dont see scotts properties as disgusting, dont have much of a problem with capitalistic ventures ( o.c. could use some more), and am thankful to the business owners(including scott) who "ran" the eric and russ clownshow out of town.
however, his disrespect of o.c.'s workers, town board and general population are not appreciated. i'm out

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upstream 4 years, 11 months ago

well, i guess i can't get past the plume of filthy coal smoke Wedel generates at the Curry (many oldtimers have told me they are equally disgusted by how much smoke and stench this poorly operated stoker produces) or the squallor at the defunct carwash on Main Street or the "mini storage"- and while I'm all for capitalism, I can't stomach the lack of respect for those of us who actually live here this demonstrates. I actually once heard him say to the planning commission that he moved his business ventures down to Oak Creek because Steamboat was becoming too strict in their land use code enforcement...hmmm...sounded pretty exploitative to me and I haven't had much respect for the guy since. And before I sign out- I'll just say Thank You to Bob and Rocky and Stu and Karen and Vivian and the Trustees for giving us your best. I know it can't be easy.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

Bob does not need to be on duty 24/7 in order to be consulted on decisions being made in his absence. There is a huge difference between all the time that it takes to do a job vs the minutes it takes to decide what is the correct job to do.

I talked to the railroad crew that cleared the drains Saturday and Sunday and chipped ice from the tracks. They said that ice can derail a train. If a coal train had been scheduled for early Saturday, it could have derailed, killed people and caused millions of dollars of damage.

I am not saying that Public Works employees are not skilled equipment operators or that it is not hard work. I am saying that the decision making process fell apart when Bob and J were out of town.

This time they were lucky that there was no catastrophic damage.

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max huppert 4 years, 11 months ago

just think of all the free coal you could have gotten if a car derailed, and right where the stoker is. you could have had a century supple. I was wondering what you do with all the ash, if you put it all down on the street is there a chance it get washed into the drains and starts to clog them up. Coal ash can cause alot of problems if not handled correctly.

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Scott Wedel 4 years, 11 months ago

Ash is allowed to cool in a metal container and then put into sealed trash bags and thrown away. Does not matter if it is wood ash or coal ash, that is the proper way to dispense of ash.

I have been picking out the larger rocks from the ash and putting them out for traction.

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Duke_bets 4 years, 11 months ago

To all who are bashing Scott - First of all, this is not an attempt to defend Scott.

His properties are by no means trashy. They are well maintained and updates are made regularly. Ask his tenants what they think. Compare his properties to many others in the Creek.

Everyone states that he is not a resident of Oak Creek. That may be true, but Duke Bets that he pays more property taxes, pays more utilities, and pays more water than any and all of you put together. Duke also Bets that he pays those bills on time.

Did all the Scott bashers check out the street in front of his apartments and the Black Mountain since last week? There was no less than 18 inches of ice on the street. Those are the tallest curbs in town and the curbs were not visible.

The problem arose in September and is just now being dealt with???????? Water was coming from the ground onto the streets for 3 days????

Scott has a legitimate gripe. This was not handled appropriately by the Town of Oak Creek.

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Duke_bets 4 years, 11 months ago

honestabe - Bob and J's pay scale really have nothing to do with this debate. They most likely negotiated their pay scale based on a job description. I'm sure water leaks being fixed in a timely matter were a part of that job description.

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