By John Schaffner

Sandy Springs Public Works Director Tom Black met with about 15 concerned, and at times vocal, residents affected by a large hole in Glen Errol Road between Mount Vernon and Long Island Drive. The hole was caused by the major flooding that wreaked havoc across the Atlanta area the third week of September.

A pipe that drains a lake on private property on Glen Errol and ties into a stormwater pipe and drainage system collapsed under the pressure of the water flow, Black explained to the group Nov. 4 at a District 6 Town Hall meeting at the Holy Spirit Preparatory School on Long Island Drive.

Most of the residents who live adjacent to the hole on Glen Errol Drive, were mainly upset that nothing had been done for well over a month since the sinkhole first developed. The road has been closed to through traffic since then.

Black explained that he and his department spent more than a month trying to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to use federal dollars to pay for the repair to the street, since it was directly tied to the storm damage.

Black said the projected cost is estimated at $350,000 and one of his responsibilities is to try to get others to pay for projects such as this rather than taking the money out of the city’s budget.

“It initially took almost three weeks to get them on site to actually get some answers from them,” Black explained. “Their answer was that FEMA is the funding of last resort,” he added.

“We had to go to NRCS, which is a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” he said. “We were told we had to exhaust their funds and their options before FEMA can agree to fund. “

Black said the city was not able to meet the NRCS until Nov. 2. “They have a half-million dollars for the whole state—all the counties involved—which means they don’t have any money,” he reported. That put the city back at FEMA’s door.

“Our plan is to continue to apply for the funds from FEMA. We think it will be funded. The city will have to pay for the work and then be refunded for it.”

“We are moving forward at this point,” he said. “We have a scope of work, are in purchasing now and hope to be on the street getting bids in the next two to three weeks.” He expects to be able to start work by the end of this month. He predicted if they have decent weather the project could be completed in 30-40 days maximum.

Black said some things have been done out there at this point. “The water line has been capped on both sides of the construction area,” he explained. “The deep end of this pipe is probably about 38 feet. It goes up to a little over 20 feet.”

The project will consist of digging down on the pipe. “We will have to take out the entire road there—probably 100 to 140-feet wide—in order to work safely that deep down.”

Crews will take out the damaged pipe, relay new pipe, then put the entire street back, including curb, gutter and asphalt.

In order to do the project, Black said the city will have to draw down the water in the private lake. He told the group he is presently in negotiations with the person who owns the house and the lake. “We will work it out one way or another,” he said, indicating the city would use its police powers if necessary in order to move forward with the repair project.

One neighbor asked if the road could be raised there when the repairs are made, but was told the road would be put back the way it was previously.

Other residents along Glen Errol requested that the city put better detour signage on both ends of the road and consider putting a traffic cop at Glen Errol and Mount Vernon during morning and evening rush hours The city promised to work on both of those issues.