Work to keep water away from homes could begin soon

More than 120 residents of the Mountain Park housing development crowded the courtroom of District Judge Michael Griffin on Friday afternoon. They wanted to hear whether much-needed drainage system upgrades to prevent water from further damaging their homes would begin soon.

Griffin accepted the latest plan submitted by the homeowners' attorney, Robert Maddox, for remedying the water accumulation problems that have plagued these Northridge-area residents since the homes were built between 1992 and 1998 on land some describe as a "swamp."

"I'm not promising a solution that's bulletproof," said Richard Walter, a construction consultant working with Maddox. "But keeping water out 90 percent of the time won't cause the damage that standing water has."

Walter will work with Enterprise Landscaping Services of Carson City to create drainage systems comprised of a French drain, sump pump, and an evaporator pit and energy dissipater that would slowly reduce the volume of water before sending it out to city gutters.

The homeowners have until May 7 to inform Maddox of their preferences. The most elaborate fix - for homeowners with the most serious water accumulations and damage - is worth about $14,000. Homes with less severe water problems are being offered a less elaborate repair worth roughly $7,700.

Walter will head up the survey efforts on the homeowners' properties.

Residents who had work done on their own, or who want a different contractor to do the job, can instead take a payment of $7,700, Maddox said.

Five-year resident Rachelle Kinsey says water accumulated in her crawl space is nearly two feet high and mold has been growing rapidly. The view into the crawl space frightens her and the situation has become so alarming she said she has "visions of things floating by."

"I'm still disappointed with the city," Kinsey said. "They should have stepped up and fixed the storm drains."

She also said she was worried the city was going to stop the proceedings because it has voiced so many objections about previous plans.

The case was originally brought by 370 homeowners in late 1999 as a class-action lawsuit against Carson City, Stanton Park Development Co., Millard Realty and Construction Co., and Garretson-Furgerson Construction Co. The city's role as a defendant was in its allowing the houses to be built.

An initial settlement payment of $10,000 was made to each resident who made a personal injury claim in 2003 from the original $14.5 million settlement. A budget of more than $4 million was created from the remainder of settlement money to pay for drainage upgrades and other damage to homes. Plans for quick fixes went awry as estimates for the work rose, design changes were required and costs to do this type of work rose speedily, and a tighter budget and more cost-effective solution was required, Maddox said.

The city just wants to see the drainage problems remedied, said Mayor Marv Teixeira, who also lives in the development but isn't among homeowners participating in the action.

Teixeira wanted to hold off on releasing money to homeowners who only wanted cash. But Griffin wouldn't agree to it. Residents will also sign a statement releasing the city from future liability.

"I'm concerned people will fall through the cracks," Teixeira said afterward. "We just want to see the problems fixed."

For homeowners with special problems aside from mold, concrete and damage from shifting earth already identified are being asked to describe and document the issues for review by the Special Court Master Michael Fondi, whose son lives in Mountain Park.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.


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