Mayor Joe Schember’s administration hopeful City Council approves federal dollars in stormwater improvements

Local News

Mayor Joe Schember’s administration is crossing their fingers in hopes that City Council will okay nearly $10 million federal dollars in stormwater improvements in the City of Erie.

We’re told that the stormwater system is going to get worse over time if it’s not fixed, but Mayor Joe Schember is waiting for Erie City Council to approve the American Rescue Plan funds for the project.

Infrastructure failures continue to run up the bills on city reserves, and the property owners affected.

“We had to put them in a motel because it wasn’t safe for them to be in their homes because of all the water that got in there. It’s very important that we move forward on this.” Mayor Schember said.

Jeff Williams, the owner and president of Frontier Lumber, says he has dealt with stormwater issues at his business.

“On July 1st, the city was overwhelmed with two or three inches of rain that morning and what that did was blew out the pipe, that’s an eight foot diameter pipe that takes the water out to the lake and that blew out and created a sinkhole about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep.” Williams said. He says the city did its best to fix the damage.

Mayor Schember says the city’s stormwater system consists of 500+ miles of pipe and lines. Some segments of the system are over 100 years old. In 2021, the mayor is hoping that federal recovery dollars will improve the safety of residents.

“If we don’t fix them, we are going to have huge bills down the road, which there is not going to be money and it’ll be difficult to find money. We’re taking some steps and we’re proposing taking some steps with the ARP money.” Mayor Schember said.

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill could also provide funds, as would a proposed stormwater assessment fee.

“That provides us long term investment capabilities into our system. In ten, thirty, forty years, we’re not in a situation where we need to invest $10.5 million into our system.” said A.J. Antolik, Assistant Director of City of Erie Public Works.

The mayor says it’ll take at least four council members to vote “Yes” in order for the project to move forward.

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