If you've gotten off of Ellington Parkway at Cleveland Street and headed toward Gallatin Road you've likely seen the desperate, and polite, plea for help from a couple who are new to our city. We've heard a lot of rhetoric about making our city a place of welcome for all. Usually the folks pushing for that don't have hardworking transplants from the north in mind when they ask us to extend every privilege to newbies to our city. Well, the Gracias aren't feeling the love.
Back in the summer of 2007 they decided to move here from Rhode Island. They bought a fixer-upper in a renewing neighborhood and as you can see from these photos they've done a stellar job of renovating and adding to the property values of the neighborhood. The before shot on the left is via Google streetview and the one on the right I took last week. Looks like they've done their part in being good neighbors.
Things were going along fairly well until the fall of 2007 when lightening hits a tree and it falls into their yard and reveals a hole. Well, it reveals a whole lot more than that.
- It reveals a drainage pipe and easement not on the property maps.
- It reveals Metro's unwillingness to maintain their property or even provide a viable solution when they deny a permit to fix the problem because it will infringe on the neighbors.
- It reveals a councilwoman's absolute lack of concern for this neighbor in stark contrast to her willingness to bend over backwards to accommodate an illegal quadplex for a landlord half a block away.
- It reveals that the neighbors have known for 30 years that the area floods and they have given up and just live with their flooding, sinkholes, mold and attendant health issues.
- It reveals Metro legal's ability to CYA and demand the Gracias don't damage the already broken and failing pipe and further that they cover it up with dirt.
- It reveals that the land isn't the only thing that stinks to high heaven after a heavy rain.
Here's the offending pipe. As you can easily see this pipe hasn't been a proper depth for some time, let alone in good working order.
Below is their new fence where the muddy high tide line is marked.
Further below shows the half a ton of sand the Gracias had to buy to keep their basement from flooding. They've already lost a great deal of personal property from previous flooding. They're doing all they can to protect their property. Metro has only given them excuses and lack of service.
One of the primary reasons we form governments is to ensure safety. Safety should trump water parks and riverfront development. Safety should trump convention centers and economic development.
What's exceptionally frustrating and shameful is that the Gracias' story is replicated all over this city. These folks feel alone and helpless. They do extraordinary things like climb out onto their eaves and affix homemade sheet-signs to their otherwise beautiful homes. They call local news outlets begging for some coverage hoping it'll get them the attention they need. And still our city leaders drag their feet and put off until tomorrow what should have been done yesterday.
Flooding on Woodmont Boulevard
River of Sewage in Charlotte Park
Sewage Leaks no More (Waverly-Belmont)
Flooding Due to Aging System
When it Rains It Pours: How Dean's Stormwater Bill Hoses Nashville