Agencies Rally to Help Longtime Yorktown Resident

Frank Costa points to the ditch that was backed up, which runs along Route 6. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Councilman Tom Diana, Town Justice Salvatore Lagonia, Frank Costa, Assistant Maintenance Foreman Joe Lewis, Landcorp owner Pamela Hirsch, Highway Super Dave Paganelli and Supervisor Michael Grace Credits: Gabrielle Bilik
Frank Costa holds a record of officials he contacted for assistance during the last few months. Credits: Gabrielle Bilik

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Town and state officials provided a quick turn of the tide to a longtime Yorktown resident earlier this month, after a clogged culvert drain caused his backyard to flood.

Frank Costa, a former IBM employee and WWII veteran, lives near the intersection of Strawberry Road and Route 6, where a stormwater ditch runs parallel to the state road. The stormwater is diverted through a culvert into a drain that runs behind Costa’s yard.

Since January, Costa said, he has experienced flooding during snowmelt and rain, and contacted several town and state officials. He has kept a detailed record of whom he contacted for assistance, because his complaint was passed back and forth among officials, with none of them remedying the situation. Town officials attributed this to confusion over which party was responsible for the area. In the meantime, Costa used a sump-pump to reroute the water to other parts of his yard, and keep the flooding at bay. The water was constantly recycling, he said.

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This month’s rainfall flooded the backed-up culvert drain to the point of overwhelming the sump-pump. Councilman Tom Diana said the water was knee-deep when Costa contacted him last weekend.

Diana said the situation was treated as an emergency because the water was nearing the point of entering Costa’s basement through a cellar door, beyond which Costa’s oil tank is situated.

“If that water got in there and started to flow up the oil tank, we would have had a whole myriad of other things that would have had to been dealt with,” Diana said.

The town’s highway and water departments came to the rescue and used a vacuum truck to remove 10 loads of water from Costa’s yard as a stopgap. Because the culverts divert into wetlands and other state-owned territory, the town could not directly repair the ditch along Route 6. Town officials contacted Sen. Terrence Murphy’s office and with the help of Murphy and his staff, state officials were notified and cleaned out the blockages in the culvert.

“It [was] a cumulative effort of all your local, state and private people working together to help,” Diana said.

Diana called a brief press conference the morning of Tuesday, May 16, to thank the local business owners, town officials and state officials that came together to assist Costa. A video of the conference can be seen on Supervisor Michael Grace’s Facebook page:

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