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Residents Hope for End to Flooding

Approved site plan has historical district residents optimistic.

The long wait may finally be coming to an end for Mary Burger, the Herndon historical district resident of Wood Street who has joined with her neighbors in complaining to town officials of the poor drainage issues in her neighborhood over the last 20 years.

"I feel very optimistic that we might finally get something through this time," said Burger, standing outside of her home as she looked down her street. "We’ve been saying things for a long time, but I think that with this project and this Town Council, we might finally get something done."

The approval of a residential site plan by Herndon’s Town Council last week on Tuesday night of a mixed condominium and single-family homes subdivision has brought increased public attention to one of Herndon’s oldest neighborhoods, long plagued by poor drainage.

Those drainage problems might soon be alleviated as both a comprehensive planning effort by the town and developer improvements are brought to the neighborhood.

Stanley Martin, the developer of the site, will be installing two new, larger pipes to run under Pearl Street for increased drainage flow as part of its agreement with the town, according to Bob Boxer, director of Herndon’s Department of Public Works. A comprehensive engineering plan to determine a specific course of action to increase storm water drainage to the neighborhood has already been earmarked for funding this year, he added.

THE PRESENCE of the Stanley Martin project, which does not currently have a projected date of completion, will help the town to develop a better drainage strategy for its neighboring subdivision, Boxer said.

"This is a good first step towards getting rid of the long-term problem of drainage that has affected this area," he said.

As soon as the preliminary planning is done to devise a clear course of action for drainage, the town will work to designate funds to carry out the repairs, Boxer added.

"We’re not going to study this problem to death, but there’s more than one problem and we need to make sure we know just what we’re doing," he said. "My job right now is to come back to [the Town Council] with as good of an estimate that we can get … and a clear work plan."

As the Stanley Martin project gets underway across from Pearl Street in the next couple years, residents of the historical district will immediately begin to see a difference in their neighborhood both in terms of drainage and aesthetically, according to Gary Gill, regional engineering manager of the Reston-based developing firm.

"In the long run, I think this is going to be a big improvement when the plan gets developed, with not only the streetscape and architecture," Gill said, "but I think that the work that we will be doing on Pearl Street will ultimately drain the water on the individual sites a lot better."

While Gill said that Stanley Martin has been working closely with area residents to address any concerns they may have about the project, any drainage issues on their properties have been long-standing and will ultimately require town attention.

"We’re talking about a really old part of town, and a lot of the drainage issues have occurred over the last several years," Gill said. "We’re limited to working in storm water drainage and pipes … anything else will ultimately need to come from the town."

WHAT IS MOST desperately needed to improve the drainage in the neighborhood are lower roads with completed curbs and gutters as well as improved grading to eliminate the free-standing water that sits in yards for days following a rain, Burger said.

For Cari Lyn Pierce, a nine-year resident of Wood Street, the improvements promised by both Stanley Martin and the Town of Herndon are greatly welcome.

"This neighborhood has just been neglected for so many years, the sidewalk is crumbling, the drainage is non-existent," Pierce said, adding that Stanley Martin representatives have been active with residents in its planning phase. "We just want the town to realize that this neighborhood has historical significance to the town, it’s not just some run-down neighborhood, and we need to make sure that it is taken care of."

While Burger may be optimistic, her neighbor Tom Speirs, who has experienced extensive flooding to his basement is taking the wait and see approach.

"What reason do we have for optimism?" Speirs said. "We’ve passed through the '80s and '90s and we still haven’t seen anything done to improve this neighborhood."

"I’ll believe that they’ll make the repairs when I see them out here."