Star Store flooding headache traced to Second Street fix in Langley

Unintended consequences of the $2.2 million redesign of Second Street in 2014 have led to some wet floors for one Langley business owner.

Following heavy rainfall Tuesday afternoon and night, Star Store Basics owner Gene Felton was greeted with standing water on the floor of his Second Street shop Wednesday morning. He believes the changes to the city’s stormwater drainage system in 2014 are directly correlated to flooding issues in the store.

A utility closet that’s connected to the city’s storm water pipe becomes over saturated with water and is left with nowhere to drain. Store staff have used a pump to reroute the water outside, but the band-aid fix failed with a kink this week. Brown and murky storm water spilled into public areas of the store and ruining ground-level merchandise.

Felton said he’s complained to city staff when the problem began in 2014 but to little effect. While he’s not “trying to stir the pot,” when contacted by a Record reporter this week he said he’d like the problem fixed once and for all.

City Mayor Tim Callison says the city may have some liability, but to what to extent is unclear.

“I would say the city has some liability in that occurrence,” said Callison, adding that more investigation is needed before a final determination can be made.

Felton said the flooding headaches started in 2014 the night utility workers installed storm water lines underneath the sidewalk next to his store. Construction on the lines and a water conduit finished up on a rainy night, and when Felton came back the following morning, there was three inches of standing water on his floor.

Flooding in the years since have caused the floor to deteriorate and he estimates damages to property and merchandise in the thousands of dollars. He’s spoken with an attorney but has not yet filed any formal claims with the city.

Felton said Puget Sound Energy declined his request for help in 2014. Felton also reported it to the city. He believes the opportunity to fix the problem when Second Street was getting its multi-million-dollar facelift may have come and gone.

“The city knew about it long before the new sidewalks went in and it should have been dealt with at that point,” Felton said. “Maybe they could have done something when the sidewalk was wide open. I knew this was going to happen.”

“I don’t know what the solution is other than cutting into that sidewalk out there and nobody wants to do that,” he added.

His efforts to mitigate the problem, such as draining the water from the junction room and doubling up plastic bags to capture the water, have been met with limited success. He’s been a tenant of the building since 1991, but flooding only began after the Second Street project.

“I’ve been unable to fully control it since then,” Felton said. “…It’s a problem that never existed before. There is no easy fix for it.”

Callison said he gained a general understanding of the Star Store’s woes and its potential correlation to the Second Street renovation project. Callison added that the city is willing to listen to Felton and work toward a solution.

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