Dewey retention project causing water problems

Property owner: Engineers used cement instead of pervious pavers
August 24, 2020

A Dewey Beach property owner says a stormwater retention project aimed at reducing flooding on Read Avenue oceanside is causing water to flow toward her property.

Kay Miller and her husband own the building on the corner of Read Avenue and Coastal Highway that houses the now-closed Little Store on the first floor and an apartment on the second floor. 

In July, Miller told commissioners that during construction, contractors poured nonpermeable cement that is up to 1.5 inches higher than the adjacent Little Store, rather than installing pervious pavers called for in the original design, causing water to flow directly toward the store. 

Miller said the Little Store closed this year, but that they couldn’t go another year without ensuring the property is viable. She said she would pay $3,000 for a retaining wall to take care of part of the problem, but the edge of her driveway that was cut needs to be restored, concrete removed and pervious pavers installed.

The history of the project dates to at least 2017, when commissioners voted to spend $25,000 toward an initial $104,000 bioretention area in front of the Little Store. The total cost was later reduced to $85,660 after the Center for the Inland Bays submitted a grant that awarded $60,660 in funding.

The project was delayed after Delaware Department of Transportation planned a pave and rehab project in Dewey; former Town Manager Scott Koenig said the town decided about a year ago to partner with DelDOT, which would construct the project along with its contractor, as designed by RK&K engineers.

“During the construction process, DelDOT engineers as well as [contractor] George & Lynch felt it was unsafe to dig down adjacent to the wood or metal bracing for the upper deck related to the Little Store property,” Koenig said.

So, Koenig said, engineers switched pervious pavers to regular concrete and changed the first couple parking spaces to pervious concrete, but created a regular concrete sidewalk instead of a pervious one. 

“Fast-forward to now, the property owner of the Little Store is unhappy they made the change without talking to them,” Koenig said, adding that the property owner asked DelDOT to stop work, but DelDOT continued.

Koenig said the property owner asked for a currently open-space area to be paved with porous pavers to allow water to infiltrate, similar to the original design. Koenig said a contractor told the property owner permeable concrete pavers could be installed for about $20,000. 

Mayor Dale Cooke said during a recent deluge, the entire corner intersection was flooded, overwhelming the system, and he could see where the water pushed mulch toward the building before it receded. Cooke said the town would take care of the issue.

On Aug. 14, Cooke said he had spoken with the project engineer, who said the sidewalk would probably have to be torn up to re-lay pipe and electrical wires that go to the building before installing a permeable replacement more in line with the original design.

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