AUGUSTA — Multiple residents of a street in the Mayfair neighborhood say they’ve had ongoing problems with water on their properties, including one who said her basement was flooded by a foot-and-a-half of water, ever since the city installed a new, taller sidewalk on their street in 2015.

Windsor Avenue residents said they’re worried their property values are lowered by standing water creating what some of them call swamp-like conditions attractive to ducks in some yards in the neighborhood. They also said, come winter, water gets into the street and their driveways and freezes, encasing them in ice and making walking and driving there slippery and dangerous.

And they think the city could, and should, fix it by returning the sidewalk to the way it was.

“My property still retains lots of water, the property next to me has become kind of swamp-like — we get mallard ducks there — and water is on at least seven properties, where it didn’t exist before 2015,” said Jacquelyn Cyr, who said her 49 Windsor Ave. home’s finished basement was flooded with a foot-and-a-half of water shortly after the city replaced the sidewalk in front of her home. “So I wonder why they won’t come and put it back the way it was, when nobody had water problems, nobody had ice jams.”

City officials say they don’t believe the problem was caused by the city’s sidewalk project that replaced a low-slung, rounded-edge sidewalk with a taller, square-edged sidewalk. But they plan to look into the residents’ problems in the neighborhood, which has very flat terrain and not much of a drainage infrastructure below it, and have staff report back to them at a May 25 City Council meeting.

“We’re certainly empathetic,” said Mayor David Rollins. “I don’t know how we get to the cause, how we get to the fix, but we certainly don’t want that to be an Augusta neighborhood characteristic. I think we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”


Bob Fairbrother, who lives across the street from Cyr, said he’s lived there for 46 years and the conditions with water on the street now are the worst he’s seen in that time. His side of the street is higher than the opposite side, so he hasn’t had water on his yard. But he has had trouble getting out of his driveway in the winter, because the street gets icy as water builds up there and freezes.

Fairbrother and Cyr said they don’t believe the job was properly engineered.

Lionel Cayer, city engineer, said when the Mayfair subdivision was first built, it was already a “pretty wet piece of ground,” and no storm drain system was installed.

“It’s just a bad piece of ground right there,” Cayer said. “They didn’t put in a storm drain system when (the neighborhood) was built. That’s what it needs. But you’re talking a few hundred thousand dollars to add something like that.”

Cayer acknowledged the new sidewalk was a little higher than the other, and that residents claim their problems with water started after it was installed. He said the city did come back and cut out sections of the sidewalk to allow water to drain across them, which Cyr said helped in some spots but not others.

“Public works thought they were doing a good thing by giving people a nice, smooth sidewalk, but that turned out to backfire,” Cayer said. “We’ll take a closer look and report back.”


Cyr said the city having sections of the sidewalk removed in seven spots along Windsor Avenue, in response to neighborhood complaints about standing water, would seem to be some acknowledgment the sidewalk was a factor in the water problem.

Ward 1 Councilor Linda Conti suggested the situation might be one the city should fix even if it didn’t cause the problem.

City Attorney Stephen Langsdorf told city councilors at their May 11 meeting that a claim was submitted on Cyr’s behalf to the city’s insurer, Maine Municipal Association, to help her pay for the damages to her home. But the claim was denied by the insurer.

Cyr said repairing her basement cost about $16,000 and she lost everything that was in it. She said irreplaceable items, such as kids’ baby books, were destroyed by the flooding.

She said her basement hasn’t flooded since but came close in February as snow melted and had no place to go. Her basement got wet, but didn’t flood. And the water cleared out the next day when the city cleared snow out of the cutout in the sidewalk, giving the water somewhere to go.

She said she would like the city to compensate her to help pay for the flooding damage but she had, and still has, no intention of suing the city.


Cecile Sprout, of 53 Windsor Ave., next to Cyr’s house, said she had water back up to within a foot of her foundation, but she was fortunate enough not to have it enter her basement like Cyr. She said she’s lived there eight years and never had any water issues until after the sidewalk reconstruction.

Cayer noted this has been a particularly wet spring with extensive rainwater, and people elsewhere have also had flooding in their basements this year, who haven’t had flooding in the past.

On a recent visit to the neighborhood, about two days since the last significant rain, standing water could be seen on small sections of multiple lawns on Windsor Avenue, especially near the several areas where the city cut out sections of the sidewalk.

Windsor Avenue is between two higher-looking streets, and very flat. Cyr said the area around her driveway is a low spot on the street. She said a large wet area on her neighbor’s lawn is likely a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

She said before the sidewalk was replaced, it was lower than the yards along it, and had a gutter-like area, so the water would leave their yards and run down the street. The taller sidewalk she said, traps the water so it has nowhere to go. She said even a little rain can leave standing water.

Jessica Horak, who lives at the corner of Windsor Avenue and Mayfair Street, said in a letter to the city she was “disappointed and disgusted” with the city’s 2015 sidewalk project on Windsor Avenue.


“Construction of the sidewalk has destroyed any drainage my yard once had,” her letter said. “My yard is filled with puddles of water that have nowhere to go. They should have added extra drainage under the sidewalk so we as homeowners wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences.”

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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