Hatboro Borough Council set the wheels in motion Monday for a state-led feasibility study to determine the extent of Pennypack Creek flooding and to arrive at possible fixes.
The council adopted a resolution during Monday’s meeting to authorize the collection of a flood damage inventory, particularly for residents of the 79-unit Woodwinds condominium development. The information will help the state Department of Environmental Protection make a determination as to whether or not grant funds should be considered.
“DEP will make a very clear calculation as to the cost of the project and the expected savings from future floods,” Hatboro Borough Manager Tommy Ryan said. “If they can demonstrate there’s a fix to be had and the cost of improvements is less than the cost of flooding” then the project could get the “green light” to move forward.
Steven Todd of DEP, who attended a council meeting earlier this month, said the flood study does not have to begin and end with Woodwinds.
“You generally want to find as much (flood damage) as you can nearby,” Todd said during an interview prior to Monday’s meeting, adding that improvements could be rolled into one project.
Ryan said Hatboro would look at flood issues in the northeast quadrant of town in the vicinity of Woodwinds to start.
“We’ll have to make a decision if we’re going to expand that area a little more,” Ryan said.
Floooding has been a problem at Woodwinds since the development was constructed, Ryan said, adding, “and it’s not getting any better.”
“They didn’t have to sell me on the fact that there’s a flooding problem there,” Ryan said. “If you’re going to construct now you’re not going to construct anything that close to the creek.”
If the benefit of flood protection items, such as a berm, pipes, or improvements to the stream channel are less costly than the anticipated property repairs, then Todd said he would apply for grants. DEP funding would cover design and construction and would not require matching municipal funds.
The flood-prone Woodwinds community, which sits on the creek and is situated off of Windsor Avenue, is the primary focus of the flood study because residents have endured serious flooding through the years. Since his company began managing Woodwinds in 1997, Bob Felte of Prudential Felte Real Estate, said the development has lost two foot bridges during storms and had to replace a parking lot.
“It’s very expensive. It’s very difficult for a community this size to support this type of improvements from potential flood disasters,” Felte said. “When Montgomery County goes under flood watch there’s a potential that the creek can rise.”
And, when it rises, Felte said water makes its way into the first floor of the homes, wreaking havoc in its path.
“You can imagine the cost of replacing carpets, flooring, drywall and base cabinets in the kitchen,” Felte said. “People just have to pick up the pieces and take care of their personal situation.”