Chilmark selectmen mull drainage gripes

Rich Saltzberg

Tea Lane resident Trina Kingsbury came before the selectmen earlier in the month to complain about dysfunctional town drainage that is adversely affecting her property, and to seek a remedy. On Tuesday the selectmen discussed how to address Kingsbury’s issues after selectmen Bill Rossi made two site visits to her property.

On August 7, Kingsbury told the selectmen flatly she isn’t a diplomatic speaker. “I don’t want to insult anyone, but I’m not politically correct, so unfortunately I might,” she said. “It was done the wrong way,” she said of drainage work at and by her house.

She said she complained to selectman Herbert Hancock 30 years ago, but the damage was already done. “I gave the town permission to run the flood brook through my property,” she said.

Later the brook was changed to a buried culvert connected to a “dangerous” cistern she feared children could fall into. The diameter of the culvert exiting the cistern was insufficient to do its intended job, and subsequent work to raise Tea Lane eliminated one of the culvert’s two passages under the roadway, making it more inadequate, she said. At some point, boulders partially crushed the culvert, she said.

Kingsbury also said the buried culvert is preventing her from drilling a well, asked the town to redo the whole project, and doubted highway superintendent Keith Emin, who examined the area, believed the drainage was so problematic.

Courtesy the town of Chilmark

On Tuesday, Kingsbury wasn’t present. Rossi said after the two site visits, he began research, and was still conferring with people on the matter.

“Ms. Kingsbury has an idea of what should be done,” Rossi said. “I listened to her suggestions. She might be on to something with her ideas, but I spoke to the contractor who last did the work, which was 2005, it wasn’t 30 years ago …”

He said he hoped any issue of grading or runoff can be remedied, and is getting a price for the work, but wondered it it’s the town’s responsibility.