AUGUSTA — An engineering firm will look into water drainage problems residents of a street in the Mayfair neighborhood blame on a sidewalk installed by the city.

While some city officials say they don’t believe the city’s repaving of Windsor Avenue and adding of a sidewalk to the street in 2015 is the sole cause of residents’ problems with water not draining from their properties, in one case flooding a woman’s basement, they said the city has retained engineering firm Woodard and Curran to study the problem on the street and recommend solutions.

City Manager William Bridgeo said a specialist with the firm will look at the situation, meet with neighborhood residents to hear firsthand about the problems they’ve had, and then issue a report and recommendations so city councilors can decide what action to take, if any. He said the Greater Augusta Utility District, which is responsible for the stormwater system in the city, also will be involved.

Many Windsor Avenue residents said ever since the city added a raised, square-edged sidewalk to their street, they’ve had problems with standing water not draining on properties on the street.

Jacquelyn Cyr said her 49 Windsor Ave. home’s finished basement flooded with 1.5 feet of water shortly after completion of the city project, which she said traps water on her and others’ properties, because the sidewalk is higher than some yards and thus doesn’t allow water to drain off their land.

She and other neighborhood residents said the problem didn’t exist until the city carried out its project.

City officials, meanwhile, said much of the Mayfair neighborhood, which is mostly flat, was built on wet ground and never had the proper drainage systems installed to remove stormwater effectively.

Bridgeo said it is “questionable, from the city’s perspective, that the repaving of the street and construction of the sidewalk was responsible for all the problems, that nobody doubts has occurred, there.”

He said the city put the sidewalk in to improve public safety on the street.

Lesley Jones, public works director, said she thinks the flooding at Cyr’s was the result of problems with the sewer system, not groundwater drainage.

But she said the city, with the engineering firm that also does other work for the city, will seek to identify the problem and potential solutions to it, regardless.

“We need to come to a good solution and figure out how to make that happen,” Jones said Thursday at an Augusta City Council meeting. “But residents need to take some responsibility for their cellars and how water is getting in.”

Cyr noted on Thursday that after residents complained about water problems following the city project, the city cut several sections of the sidewalk out. She said drainage improved after the city did so, but it remains a problem.

“If the sidewalk didn’t cause this, I have to ask, why did they cut out seven section of new sidewalk, days after I was flooded?” Cyr said.

Bridgeo responded to Cyr that he instructed city workers to cut the sections of sidewalk out because “you thought it was the cause of the problem and I thought it was the least we could do to put your mind at rest.”

Cyr’s neighbor Amy Gove said that last winter residents couldn’t drive on Windsor Avenue because ice that had built up on the road made it slippery and unsafe, something she said didn’t happen before the sidewalk project. In warmer weather, she said, a lot where children used to play sports before the sidewalk project was carried out is now so wet it attracts ducks and mosquitoes instead of children.

“We’ve gone to the city and gone to the city and all they’ve gotten is people coming and looking, and they say, ‘It’s your fault,'” Gove said. “That’s just wrong and it’s not good customer service.”

Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti said the city should work to solve the problem even if officials don’t think the project is to blame.

“When our citizens have a problem like this, we should address it as best we can, as opposed to worrying about liability and making it us versus them,” she said. “I’m glad the city is having a consultant look at this. But regardless of what the consultant says, I think it is a problem that I, as a city councilor, am willing to have the city take on and address it in some way.”

Bridgeo said the engineering firm’s work, as long as the cost doesn’t exceed $10,000, can be done by Woodard and Curran as part of the city’s existing contract for services from the firm, without going out to bid.

Bridgeo said he hopes the study can be done quickly enough so that potential solutions to the problem it identifies can be put in place before winter.

Jones said some potential solutions, such as the installation of major stormwater infrastructure, probably would take too long to design, build and install this year.

Mayor David Rollins said the city is not happy about Windsor Avenue residents’ water problems and that the city would “do this in an expedited manner, as best we can.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

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Twitter: @kedwardskj