Marietta officials discuss Rathbone flooding

By Janelle Patterson

Staff Reporter

Marietta City Council’s Streets Committee focused on next steps Tuesday for residents and the city following more than 20 years of flooding concerns in the Rathbone area.

The neighborhood of Rathbone rests between Davis Avenue and Muskingum Drive in the third ward of the city. Chairwoman Susan Boyer, who lives in the neighborhood, focused the points of the meeting to defining with the mayor, city engineer, law director and neighborhood residents present that the current city position on the drainage and flooding issue is three-pronged:

1. The properties being flooded are privately owned, removing city responsibility from funding improvements or flood mitigation, according to City Law Director Paul Bertram.

2. The area where water moves is officially classified as a stream, though private development over the last few decades has filled in water routes for said stream.

3. The city is able to facilitate improvements in cooperation with the private property owners to mitigate the flooding concerns, and is able to assess the cost of that action to the taxes of the residents impacted.

“Your options are to either take the city to court on this opinion, or we gather as a neighborhood and consider improvements through a property tax assessment,” said Boyer. “Nobody is trying to scare anybody here. I’m trying to nail down the next steps.”

She also asked City Engineer Joe Tucker to next provide a ballpark cost estimate updated from three iterations of stormwater studies performed in the neighborhood between 1991 and 2010.

“Let’s be clear about what we mean when we say fix the problem,” added Tucker. “When I say we can make improvements, we can guide work that can improve the stormwater drainage but recognize there will be storms and flood events that exceed the capacity of any ‘fix.’ Rathbone is built at the receiving end of a very large drainage area.”

Seven residents of the Rathbone neighborhood listened to the discussion council and city administrators held on the issue Tuesday. Kenneth Snyder, who has spearheaded the most recent resurfacing of this debate before council, said he’ll be returning to subsequent meetings with council after dealing with flooding in his basement for all 19 years he has lived in the neighborhood.

“Every time it rains I have to take the flashlight out and go to the basement to watch the water rise,” he said after the meeting. “My last straw was bailing out water right after getting out of the hospital.”

The committee also discussed next steps for a proposed alley vacation in Norwood, between Euclid Avenue and Grandview Avenue. Boyer tabled the discussion Tuesday for 30 days to allow time to consult with the city engineer.

Tucker also brought forward before counsel proposed legislation for a cooperative agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation to inspect 17 city bridges and culverts classified by the state as bridges.

For no cost to the city, ODOT will facilitate coming inspections to the following:

– Fort Street pedestrian bridge.

– Fourth Street over Goose Run.

– Second Street over Goose Run.

– Glendale Road over Goose Run.

– Gross Street over Goose Run.

– Betsey Mitchell over Goose Run.

– North Seventh Street over Goose Run.

– Putnam Street over Goose Run.

– Butler Street over Goose Run.

– Front Street over Goose Run.

– The intersection of Butler Street and Third Street over Goose Run.

– Putnam Street Bridge over the Marietta River Trail.

– Academy Drive over Mill Creek.

– Colegate Drive over Mill Creek.

– Cherry Tree Lane over a ditch.

– Channel Lane over Goose Run.

– Colegate Drive over Mill Creek.

Tucker said though the city would bear no cost of inspections, in the agreement the city would be responsible for mitigating structural issues if found, with first assessing weight limits and posting those if necessary.

Council plans to introduce legislation authorizing the ODOT agreement at its first regular business meeting in September.

Council will next meet today at Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee at 4:30 p.m.

Janelle Patterson can be reached at