Brookhaven’s Public Works department presented a plan during a March 10 work session to make drainage improvements at the junction of Inman Drive and Saybrook Drive.

The issues, outlined by Public Works Director Hari Karikaran, consist of erosive velocities, failing drainage infrastructure, and instability of road, water, and sewer systems, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Suggested solutions include inlets, curbs, gutters, and pipes to capture storm runoff, protection of stream banks and headwalls, vegetation, sediment control, and “riprap.” The latter is described in the agenda as rock or rubble “used to armor shorelines, streambeds, bridge abutments, pilings and other shoreline structures against scour and water, wave, or ice erosion.”

During a regular council meeting following the work session, Brookhaven resident Lisa Mayer berated city staff for not paying sufficient attention to stormwater concerns while focusing excessively on parks and their costly upkeep. She said money spent on city parks should be diverted to drainage maintenance.

“Common sense applies — you do the infrastructure first,” said Mayer. Holding up a glossy pamphlet published by the city about its parks, she said, “We can do without this. It’s nice but fundamentally, infrastructure is more important. I’d rather the money went to stormwater.”

Mayor John Ernst explained that funds in the city’s budget cannot simply be transferred from one item to another. “Stormwater is a separate utility and a separate line item on your tax bill, because it pays for stormwater, very similar to your gas bill, and your power bill is a utility. There is nothing else in our budget that is separated like stormwater is.”

Assistant City Manager Steven Chapman added that the budgeting process requires “looking at everything from top to bottom, and the City Council ultimately makes a determination on what to fund, as there are lots of competing interests.”

The city recently discussed the possibility of raising stormwater utility rates by 60% to 85% over five years to pay for citywide improvements.

Kevin C. Madigan

Kevin C. Madigan is a freelance journalist based in metro Atlanta.