On a ride through the Sunset subdivision west of Starkville, Bobby Bardwell points to a pool of water in a culvert at the corner of Greenwood Street and Chisholm Drive.
Tall grass pokes through the water”s surface. Empty bottles and cans float nearby.
“It”s like this all year-round,” Bardwell says.
The 70-year-old retired advertising representative stares down Greenwood, then looks back up Chisholm. He shakes his head in disgust.
During the summer, the standing water serves as a breeding ground to thousands of mosquitoes, he says.
Most of the culverts in the Sunset subdivision are overgrown. Some are littered with garbage.
“How is water supposed to flow through there?” Bardwell says as he points to a section of overgrown culvert barely below the surface of a nearby front yard. “Water doesn”t flow anywhere. It stands in your yard.”
The culvert in front of Bardwell”s home “isn”t bad” compared to some of the others in the neighborhood, but water still backs up nearly to his front door during heavy rainfalls, he says. The sidewalk in front of his house is two shades: one shade shows where the water reaches during heavy rain, and the other remains dry.
Bardwell is tired of the flooding in front of his house and others”. A front yard not far from Bardwell”s has more mud than grass.
At the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Bardwell was spokesman for the community of more than 300 homes and asked the board to help alleviate the problems. Building new culverts would solve at least part of the problem, he says.
The county is aware of the flooding in Sunset subdivision –District 1 Supervisor Carl Clardy said he recalls the area flooding as far back as 1972 — but a culvert and drainage improvement project would cost an estimated $1.5 million, County Administrator Don Posey said. The good news for Sunset residents, however, is that the search is on for funding.
“We”re trying to make a move to get something done,” District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said.
Golden Triangle Planning and Development District project analyst Phyllis Benson also was at the meeting and will pursue a Community Development Block Grant on the county”s behalf for the improvement project. According to Benson, as much as $650,000 could be available.
The Appalachian Regional Commission also might have moneys available, Benson said. The county might have to provide matching funds.
The first step in applying for CDBG funds would be a door-to-door survey of Sunset residents. At least 51 percent of those residents would have to be in the low-to-moderate income level, Benson said.
Bardwell and Benson plan to work together to gather information from Sunset residents. She encouraged him to tell his neighbors to write letters, submit copies of insurance claims for any damage caused by flooding, send in photos and other items which would give the county a strong case for receiving CDBG funds.
One issue which could come up if the county does move forward with a culvert and drainage-improvement project is the replacement of concrete in residents” driveways. The driveways would be torn up, but the county doesn”t have the money to replace them with concrete, Posey said.
But Bardwell said some residents would be content with gravel, crushed stone or asphalt on top of the new culverts instead of concrete.
Despite the board”s willingness to pursue funding for improvements, Bardwell is still frustrated. He feels the culverts, drainage systems and even garbage pickup have been neglected in Sunset for years.
“It”s always been a problem,” he said. “Ever since I got here.”