The City of Sylvania recently wrapped up a stream restoration project on Ten Mile Creek, just as the County was sending out postcards informing residents of a new ditch assessment for the Ten Mile Creek Watershed. According to City of Sylvania Director of Public Service/Safety Kevin Aller, Sylvania residents will benefit from both.
“If you don’t maintain the creeks, and keep the log jams out of the way and keep the banks in good shape, you either get flooding, or you get erosion which starts creeping into people’s property,” explained Aller. “At some point there would be a blockage, and everything upstream would flood.”
The City of Sylvania spends upwards of $200,000 annually on ditch maintenance, in addition to special projects like the Harroun Park River Trail Stream
Restoration Project completed in May, which had a price tag of around $240,000. A current storm water and ditch maintenance assessment, paid by residents annually, helps fund the work. The fee is $15 per year for residential small parcels, $30 per year for large parcels, and commercial property owners pay a rate based on their size.
“Anything within City boundaries, the City maintains,” Aller explained. “However, because it’s within the Ten Mile Creek watershed, the County Engineer has ultimate responsibility for the entire watershed.”
Aller said he and Joe Shaw were both prepared for an influx of calls after the County Engineer’s Office mailed out tens of thousands of postcards notifying residents of a new ditch improvement assessment, but they received relatively few inquiries.
“We don’t get involved in that too much, because it is a County Engineer issue,” said Aller. “But obviously all of our citizens received that postcard.”
(See recent news article “Sylvania residents receive unexpected notice for Ditch Improvement”)
“The ditch petition process is a confusing one,” admitted Aller. “The County decided to go this route because of recent changes in the law. It’s a way for them to, should the need arise, be able to maintain these ditches if the property owners do not.”
Aller said that one of the things the City will be able to do, now that the ditch petition has moved forward, is offset the County’s assessment with the work the City does.
“The amount of work that we do in that Ten Mile Creek Watershed is very large, and our cost will basically go against any assessment,” said Aller. “If, for example, the County does some drainage work in Sylvania Township, that would benefit all of us, because everyone within the Ten Mile Creek Watershed benefits from drainage. The County Engineer would then notify us that they were going to assess our residents for Sylvania’s percentage of the project. But then we, in turn, would notify the County Engineer that the City of Sylvania has done $200,000 worth of work in ditch maintenance, and boom, it would knock out any assessment our residents would have to pay.”
The City is now considering Phase II of the restoration project just completed, and that cost is estimated at $600,000 - $700,000. Aller said this, again, would cancel out future assessments from the County.
“It would take a really, really huge project for our residents to ever actually see any assessment,” offered Aller. “And honestly, I just don’t see that happening.”
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