Edison, NJ - Thirty-five years ago, Andrew and MaryJean Fresco purchased their home on Kearny Avenue in Edison. Little did they imagine that an ongoing jurisdictional battle between the Township of Edison and PSE&G would leave their home susceptible to severe flooding.
Now, the couple said, after three years of seeking assistance from Edison's DPW Director, Anthony Russomanno, and other township officials, they have filed a lawsuit against Edison Township over the alleged negligent maintenance of a creek that runs behind their property.
According to the Frescos, the Township permitted the creek to fill with debris which inturn causes water from the creek to overflow onto their property. The cause of the overflow, they contend, is not natural, but rather, has been caused by improper and otherwise negligent inspections and maintenance of the creek by the Township, which has led to the blockage of the creek with debris.
The creek has been overflowing every time it rains, according to the couple. The overflow of water destroyed the fence on the property, and also routinely brings in debris and contaminants from the creek including mud, oil, and gas, they said.
Mr. Fresco told TAPinto Edison that it takes 4 to 5 hours to restore his property each time it floods.
“We’re prisoners here. Whenever it rains, we don’t sleep, we’re up all night with flashlights working in the yard, looking in the creek. It’s like we have no life, we can’t go anywhere. How would you like to live like that? You know basically I’m concerned about the smell that comes in the backyard, is it contaminated in any way? It’s just disgusting,” said Ms. Fresco.
Mr. Fresco told TAPinto Edison that the couple have raised the issue with the Township multiple times, but with very little success.
“For two years they’ve been looking into it,”said Mr. Fresco. “We keep calling the town over and over and over. And they’re doing nothing. They won’t do anything for us,” he said. Mr. Fresco estimates that he contacted Mr. Russomanno a half dozen times in the past two years.
"He kept telling me he’d get back to me, he’d take care of it, and nothing was done. He blamed it on PSE&G – they said it wasn’t them," said Mr. Fresco.
Ms. Fresco said that she was told by the Township that PSE&G would be addressing their issue prior to submitting an Accident/Property Damage Report Form in August 2017. PSE&G has not yet addressed the issue, she said.
But Edison Township officials say that maintenance of the creek isn’t the Township’s responsibility.
“Kearny Avenue residents have made the Township aware of flooding issues from a nearby stream. However, the affected areas are in a state-designated flood plain and portions of that stream are within a PSE&G easement,” Edison Business Administrator Maureen Ruane told TAPinto Edison. “So, it is not within the Township’s jurisdiction to clean out that stream,” she said.
Ms. Ruane stated that the Township is working with other agencies to resolve the problem. “Township engineers inspected the affected areas and we are working to persuade PSE&G and the State Department of Environmental Protection to take the necessary, appropriate remedial actions to provide relief to our residents,” Ms. Ruane said.
In the meantime, the Frescos continue to deal with severe flooding on their property. “It’s costing me property - trees are falling down because of the creek, it’s just disgusting. It smells like sewer when it rains, it’s completely disgusting. This has been going nonstop,” said Mr. Fresco.