Dear Manager Harden:
Here are some awkward realities for Mayor Allen Green, you as our Port Orange Interim City Manager and the Port Orange City Council.
A $2.9 million dollar flood mitigation project was just completed in my Ruth Street/Powers Avenue neighborhood on November 2013. It was a 9 month project designed and supervised by Quentin L Hampton, 35 year engineer of record for the City of Port Orange. The project was built by Masci Construction, another company that has been a favored contractor for the City of Port Orange.
Our neighborhood was much inconvenienced during that entire 9 months by this construction project. We had dust, shaking of foundations, constant noise, destruction of vegetation, giant earth moving machines everywhere and blocked driveways. But we willingly endured that because we were assured that this project would either stop or radically improve our flooding issues and stop the closure of Dunlawton Avenue, the primary evacuation route for several cities.
It did not work. Our homes and streets flooded again on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014. Dunlawton was closed. Again. After only one day of rain.
I have now heard the following from several sources:
The recently built retention ponds were never lowered in anticipation of flooding for the rain event that occurred that day.
The tidal gate was not closed in anticipation of high tide.
There was flooding into the sewer plant at the end of Ruth Street and the operators were forced to use pipes that should have been used to remove water from the neighborhood to stop flooding into the plant. There was no redundancy planned into the project for a crisis such as this.
Storm sewers were known by City Council to be used for yard waste by residents and professional lawn companies. Those drains and sewers were clogged before the rains even began.
City and Quentin L. Hampton employees have stated off the record that they knew this project was a $2.9 million dollar “band aid” and would not really work.
This latest misadventure for the Port Orange taxpayer and my neighborhood comes on top of the following:
- Over $900,000 water billing loss with Daytona Beach Shores
- Over $500,000 in unapproved and unwanted purchases
- Over $140,000 in lost revenue from City wrecker contract
- Over $200,000 of unplanned expenses due to failed bids
- Unknown amounts of revenue lost due to faulty water meters.
I know Mr. Manager you inherited these problems but I am assuming you knew the troubled history of this city when you took the job. And this latest debacle, as the phrase goes, “happened on your watch”. So I and I am sure others are looking to you for answers.
Councilman Bob Ford has asked for an “exhaustive analysis” of what went wrong here. When do we get that Mr. Manager? And once that analysis is made, what do you plan to do to fix the problems and failures I know it will identify?
I would like the statements I posed earlier in the body of this letter either confirmed or denied with comprehensive explanations. If these statements have any element of truth, then we have profound problems of incompetence and worse. We need to hear honest straightforward answers from you from the dais.
My city’s apparent inability to perform its most basic functions is really impacting my health, safety and welfare. And I know it is affecting my neighbors. Our city lurches from crisis to crisis. It has got to stop.
Something is terribly wrong in the City of Port Orange. Enough is enough.
Dianne Templeton Gardner
618 Ruth Street
Port Orange, Florida 32127