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Flooding prompts renewed protest

For the second time in a month, Cheektowaga residents filled the Town Hall meeting room Monday to protest the flooding in backyards, basements and streets that Cheektowaga's aging and incomplete storm sewers cannot stop during heavy rains.

One neighborhood submitted a petition protesting the flooding. One man complained his basement needed five sump pumps.

A new storm sewer on Dingens Street, a border of one of the three neighborhoods represented at Monday's meeting, will bring some relief, said Town Engineer Bill Pugh. While fixing all the problems will be slow and expensive, installation will begin on Dingens in the next month or so, he said.

"You should see some work," Pugh said. That prompted an older woman to reply in frustration: "Can I be sure of that before I die? I've been there over 45 years."

Board members said they were working hard to find solutions. Yet, they explained, finding funding was difficult for replacing old storm sewers and installing them along streets that lack them.

"We've been trying to push this," Supervisor Mary Holtz said of recent efforts to extend the widened Dingens trunk line with some money from the county.

Once the Dingens sewer is installed, the town plans eventually to connect side streets. Council Member Stanley Kaznowski said he had presented a three-year plan for fixes to one William Street taxpayer group.

After the meeting, Council Member Charlie Markel drove to look at one house with problems on Alaska Street, near Dingens.

"It's things we should have addressed decades ago," said Markel, who has been on the board for 2 1/2 years. "If you have real issues and real problems, you got to jump on them as quickly as possible. I understand years; I don't understand decades."

Carolyn Coffta, of Medina Street, also near Dingens, said flooding in her house had aggravated her asthma. "I'm tired of bleaching my basement," she said. "Our driveways are cracked. Our sidewalks are cracked. I have cracks in the cellar wall."

Another neighborhood submitted a protest petition. Charles Maciejewski, of Wellworth Place, presented pages signed by 28 neighbors and read from a statement. "The past seven years have gotten worse to where heavy rains push raw sewage into our basement," he said. "[S]ewage is pumped into our storm system, which again contaminates our backyards."

e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com

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