By Holly Cook
Roeland Park councilmembers were briefed Monday on a section of failed storm sewer pipe causing sinkholes in the backyards of two homes located at 57th Street and Roeland Drive. The damage occurred following severe storms experienced throughout northeast Johnson County in late July.
City administrator Keith Moody said removing and replacing the failed pipe is expected to cost around $360,000. City staff has already shifted funds in the 2017 budget to accommodate for the expense.
It’s not the first time in recent years that corroded metal stormwater pipes have cause sinkholes and related safety concerns in northeast Johnson County. Last fall, a large sinkhole opened up along 62nd Terrace in Mission. Roeland Park saw two sink holes open up in neighborhoods in 2013, and a sizable hole opened up along the former Hobby Lobby parking lot in Mission that same year.
Councilmember Ryan Kellerman called the sinkholes a “huge public safety concern.”
The location of the failed corrugated pipe is within the city’s RC12-018 stormwater benefit initiative, and was approved by the Johnson County Storm Water Management Advisory Council for funding in 2008. Under the agreement the county agreed to provide Roeland Park 75 percent funding to improve deteriorated stormwater infrastructure and remove homes from the flood plain.
Other locations within the initiative were addressed but, according to a staff report, the city abandoned the project including the failed pipe following “large opposition from the neighborhood.”
Councilmember Sheri McNeil said she thought an engineer had been hired in recent years to evaluate all corrugated pipe throughout the city and determine if any needed servicing.
“It just seems to me if all the corrugated pipe was supposed to have been checked out and it wasn’t that someone should be held accountable,” she said.
Director of public works Jose Leon said the city is not fully aware of where all of the corrugated metal pipes are within the city.
The council directed staff to collect more information on potential solutions for the sinkhole and broken pipe issue and report back at the next city council meeting.