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Stormwater basin in Martinsburg concerns some nearby residents

July 11, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. "Lake Foxcroft" does not appear on any maps for the city of Martinsburg, but the stagnant water in the stormwater collection basin at Foxcroft Meadow subdivision has alarmed residents there.

"It's never had any water in it," said Sharilyn Bovey, who lives off Azalea Avenue, about a block or so away from the stormwater management site. "It's a health issue for us."

Stormwater made murky by runoff from neighboring construction sites along North Foxcroft Avenue flowed into the basin two weeks ago when more than 6 inches of rain fell in Martinsburg in three days.

And it still hasn't entirely receded.

"At this point, I have to question how effective the pond is going to be," said David Albright, another Azalea Avenue resident who wants to know why the stormwater from commercial areas west of his home was diverted to the pond, instead of the city's drainage system.

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Because of the stagnant conditions, other residents say they fear the potential for a "mosquito haven" and noted the stench of the stormwater that drained from commercial property along the section of Foxcroft Avenue. Stormwater from each home in the 54-lot subdivision drains into dry wells on respective parcels.

Though Foxcroft Meadow residents are not liable for maintaining the basin, Virginia Stotler, vice president of Van Wyk Enterprises Inc., said the stormwater management site was constructed nearly 20 years ago as a regional collection system to serve about 30 acres of neighboring commercial development.

"Up until now, Van Wyk Enterprises has always maintained" the basin, Stotler said Monday.

As part of efforts to reconcile the estate of the late Bruce Van Wyk, the stormwater management responsibilities are being transferred to the yet-to-be-formed North Foxcroft Avenue Association Inc., a group of businesses served by the collection basin, Stotler said.

"We have every confidence they will do that," she said.

The basin was enlarged earlier this year, apparently to accommodate the stormwater management needs of an automobile dealership and an office building slated to open at two of the remaining lots off Foxcroft Avenue, officials and residents said.

City officials determined the stormwater management site would be able to support the additional commercial development, City Engineer/Planning Director Michael Covell said Monday.

Covell suspects the elevated water table caused by the abnormally high amount of rainfall contributed to stagnant water problem and noted city officials have a commitment from a contractor at the construction sites under way to address storm-related concerns.

"I think when that storm hit, it caught everybody unaware," Stotler said.

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