Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 26, 2012

Petition seeks grant for better drainage on Stafford Drive

PRINCETON —  More than 2,000 of Princeton’s residents are asking West Virginia’s government to consider a grant that could keep Stafford Drive open every time heavy rain arrives over the city.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is scheduled to stop today at the Princeton Municipal Building to accept a petition asking the state to approve a Small Cities Block Grant that would pay for improve drainage along Stafford Drive. High water has blocked sections of Stafford Drive such as the Bee Street intersection and at Trent Street almost every time rain is in the weather forecast.

The city started circulating petitions last spring, said Mayor Patricia Wilson.

“We’ve had them out since May, and we have collected over 2,000 signatures,” Wilson said Tuesday. “Vice Mayor Marshall Lytton has really, really worked hard getting the majority of the petitions.”

Vice Mayor Marshall Lytton said several businesses and local entities helped him collect signatures.

“Well, I went door-to-door a lot,” he recalled.

Long John Silvers on Stafford Drive, the Mercer County Senior Center, Smoker Friendly, and the Princeton Public Library helped fill copies of the petitions, Lytton said. He estimated that these entities helped him collect 1,200 signatures.

“I just hope that works,” Lytton said of the petitions.

In the petitions, the city’s residents are asking the state to approve a state Small Cities Block Grant to help alleviate flooding along Stafford Drive. Motorists had to deal with high water on the roadway on Sept. 18 after a heavy rainstorm.

“It’s a deterrent to the businesses,” Wilson said.

At Trent Street, personnel at the Mercer County Senior Center often have to put sandbags at the front door to keep water from coming into the lobby, she said. Residents at neighboring streets like Lazenby Avenue and Princeton Avenue also have problems with high water.

City Manager Wayne Shumate said that Princeton has applied four times for the same state grant. The city has been seeking $500,000.

The basis for the city’s plan for alleviating Stafford Drive’s flooding issues began in 2003 with a free engineering study conducted by Stafford Consultants, Shumate said.

“The study was a compilation of common sense ideas that Public Works Director Kenny Rose and myself have proposed to the city council for consideration; and that is the basis for the pre-enginnering storm water study,” he said.

Options for which the city does not have funding include larger storm drainage pipes along Brick Street, Shumate said.

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