McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

May 1, 2013

Neighborhood awaits improvements

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Construction work by the city on the street and drainage system at Mallard Lane and Flamingo Road can’t start soon enough for some who live in the neighborhood.

After all, they’ve been waiting a long time.

Photos taken by News-Capital Photojournalist Kevin Harvison in April 2011 and again this week shows little has changed in the spot over the past two years.

What  had once been a brick mailbox that collapsed when the ground underneath gave way was lying in the same spot Monday where it had been two years ago

A drainage channel or small canal which was supposed to have been lined with concrete under a previous Capital Improvements Project plan remains unfinished.

A portion of a city street is starting to sag because corrugated pipes used for the drainage have been failing.

Brecken Wagner said he moved into the neighborhood last September.

“I’ve been calling the city ever since I moved in,” Wagner said. “I signed an easement for them to get to work.”

Wagner said he hasn’t seen much work at the site so far.  Occasionally, a city truck will pull up and someone will mill about, he said.

“They come over every once in a while; they stare at it and they leave,” Bracken said.

Wagner said he was told work would begin on the project “by the last of April.” So far, the only work he’s seen has been the cutting of some grass and weeds by the city in the unlined channel after he complained, Wagner said.

“They actually cleaned it out,” he said. “It was much, much worse.”

Wagner said he’s concerned only for his 2-year-old son and other children in the neighborhood, but for other children who pass by the area as well. The fact that the earth has collapsed near the unlined drainage channel has him deeply concerned.

“It’s dangerous as hell,” Bracken said.

“If a child falls in it and gets stuck, nobody would see them.”

Referring to what he considers the unstable ground, Wagner said he saw cracks in his driveway after a city truck pulled into it.

“I’m waiting for the whole street to fall in,” he said.

Wagner says he knows the project will likely be disruptive to the neighborhood and he’s prepared for that to happen.

“They’re going to have to tear the street up and redo the tin horns,” he said. “They’re going to create havoc and chaos,” he said. “I totally understand that. I get all that.”

During the April 23 meeting of the McAlester City Council, the city council approved an item calling for Mayor Steve Harrison to sign a contract between the city and the K-Bar Company for construction on the Mallard Lane and Flamingo Road Drainage Improvement Project.

Councilors approved the mayor entering into an agreement to accept the company’s $143,663.87 bid for total construction of the project.

“This is a project that has been on the horizon for many years,” said City Engineer and Public Works Director John Modzelewski.

Too many years, according to some local residents.

Told that the council had taken action to move the project forward during the council’s last regular meeting, Wagner appeared underwhelmed, indicating he’s heard lots of talk before, but so far has seen little action.

“When are they going to have a ‘We’re done’ meeting?’” said Wagner.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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