Bellevue High School facility continues to flood despite finger-pointing
It’s a problem that’s lasted years without an obvious solution, so district and city officials are trying just about everything.
CAMPBELL COUNTY, Ky. (WXIX) - Frustration is spreading in the Bellevue community about flooding that continues to impact the track at Bellevue High School.
Community members including district parents and even Bellevue Mayor Charlie Cleves want something done about the flooding that’s plagued the school for years.
Whether a solution exists—and whose fault the flooding is in the first place—remain unclear.
“There’s no way to stop it in one location,” Cleves said Tuesday. “It’s just too much from too many directions.”
The Bellevue High School track lies beside a creek at the bottom of a large hill. During heavy rainfall, the creek overflows, flooding the track and field.
Students and volunteers work to clean up the muddy track every time it rains significantly. Their efforts are tireless but perhaps unending, according to Christopher Cole, spokesperson for Northern Kentucky Sanitation District #1, who notes SD1 has been looking into the issue for “a long time.”
Cole says the drainage system was designed only to handle regular rainfall events, not heavy, sustained storms.
“There’s really no way to quote-unquote ‘fix that,’” Cole said. “Because, even if we put in a 96-inch pipe, then a storm would come along that’s big enough that it will overwhelm that pipe.”
The City is working to mitigate the problem by creating multiple pond reserves that take water out of the creek.
Meanwhile, Cleves and Bellevue Schools Superintendent Misty Middleton are adamant there’s another factor. Middleton notes in a written statement (fully below) that the cause of the flooding comes from a property not owned by the district or city.
Cleves points to a building at the brow of the hill above the track owned by a man named Jeffrey Gimmer.
“All the water is being drained off his big roof, and he’s got a really big place, and it is overflowing the system up there and coming down the hillside, causing the hillside to liquefy,” Cleves claimed.
“The water is not coming off my property,” he said. “It’s coming out of that big storm line that runs through my property.”
Gimmer says a man from the Bellevue Board of Education approached him years ago asking him to tie all his building’s down spouts into a single pipe to divert the water elsewhere on the hillside. He complied.
“Since then, it’s created a big sink hole, and it’s washing down over that hill,” Gimmer said.
But the flooding persists.
Now Cleves says the City is working on a proposal with Dayton to retain some of the water in Sargeant Park.
The City is also requiring the Reserves at Bellevue, a new development upstream of the school to retain all the water coming out of the development site.
The City is also receiving a $1.6 million grant to remove water from Covert Run near the development site down to Grandview Elementary School. The grant will add a sidewalk and repave the street.
Lastly, the City is attempting to buy two homes to create a large retention pond for the overflow.
Bellevue Schools Superintendent Misty Middleton issued the following statement:
“Flooding is taking place in an area of the track when heavy rains cause large amounts of water to flow from the top of the hill. The district desires to resolve this issue so improvements to the track can be made and additional funds and manpower do not have to continually be utilized when the flooding occurs.
“We are working with the City of Bellevue to identify appropriate next steps since it has been determined the cause of the issue comes from property that is not owned by the district nor the city.
“I acknowledge the tremendous help and support the district has received by parents and students in their efforts to clean up the mud left on the track, but that is not the expectation. In my short time at Bellevue, I have quickly learned the community is eager to support our schools and it is much appreciated.”
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