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Glenwood Park swamped with sewer water
|Photos courtesy Geoffrey Phillips
|Glenwood Park suffered flooding of sewer water after branches and rocks were thrown down an open sanitary sewer. The City of Columbus is calling this a malicious act of vandalism.
|Visitors to Glenwood Park on April 19 were welcomed by the smell and sound of overflowing sewer water.
An overflowing sanitary sewer led to Glenwood Park being flooded by water and sludge.
According to Public Relations Specialist George Zonders, City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities, the overflow on April 19 was an act of malicious vandalism when the manhole cover was removed and filled with debris behind the recreation center.
“It’s horrible. We have a park full of sewer water right now,” Highland West Neighborhood Association President Geoffrey Phillips said.
Phillips was visiting the park and hoping to capture comparison shots of the grounds prior to a clean-up effort planned for the next day by 36 volunteers from the Call Before You Dig organization – when he witnessed gushing water flowing down a hiking trail.
“It hasn’t flooded for years…and so I thought, where is this coming from? So, I followed it up the hill and it lead to that sanitary sewer,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he discovered two uncovered manholes. One for the parking lot’s runoff water, and the second for the sanitary sewer which was clogged with rocks and branches. It appeared both manhole covers were pried off during the vandalism.
“So we have one manhole that’s ground level that somebody could have stepped in, like a child after dark, falling into a sanitary sewer. And another one where you could have had kids going down a ladder playing and getting stuck down there,” Phillips said.
According to Zonders, crews arrived that day and ran into issues reaching the site with their equipment.
The area was taped off with signage and debris was removed by hand – until workers were able to maneuver trucks into the area.
Zonders said the covers have been replaced and the sewer is once again functioning. Also, due to recent heavy rains, any health risks from the sewage is most likely washed away.
Heavy brush thought dangerous
According to Phillips, there are more health and safety issues Glenwood Park faces other than vandalism – mainly an overgrowth of bushes and around three acres of unkempt grass.
“This year what I want to see is that brush bush hogged out of the lower base of that park. We’re not asking them to put picnic tables in right now, we’re not asking them to do anything but clear the brush out of there,” Phillips said, “A jungle looking area like that with a lot of standing water, if they continue to have sewer overruns, is dangerous because children still play there – only now you can’t see them.”
Phillips is concerned the overgrown brush provides a hiding place for the high amount of sex offenders who live in the area.
According to Franklin County’s Sexual Offender Database, there are 207 sex offenders living within a two-mile radius of Glenwood Park.
“If someone came up and grabbed a kid and dragged him down there. All that brush cover - it presents a danger…you’d hear someone scream for help, but you would not see where they were,” Phillips said.
He added, “In an inner city neighborhood parks are essential for the health of the neighborhood and the quality of life for its residents.”
According to Director Alan McKnight, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, mowing was halted eight to 10 years ago after budget reductions. The lower level of the park was chosen because it stays wet a good portion of the year - posing a challenge to maintenance.
"However, we are aware that some residents would like for this to change and we are exploring some options to determine if this is possible," McKnight said.
McKnight added, "Once weather dries, which we hope will be soon, our Park Maintenance staff will go in the park and finish tidying up so that everyone can truly enjoy the efforts of these wonderful volunteers."
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