Eugene Falco and Lori Morrissey are begging the Village of Cobleskill to do something about the raw sewage flooding their sink at 110 Cherry Lane.
They can’t afford to keep paying for repairs to the private line along the private lane; it could even mean they end up walking away from the home they’ve owned for 16 years.
“You talk about blighted homes…zombie properties…if this keeps up we’re going to have no choice but to walk away,” Ms. Morrissey told Mayor Linda Holmes and trustees last Tuesday.
Unfortunately, they were told, because both the line and the lane are private—not public—the responsibility for maintaining them does fall to Ms. Falco and Ms. Morrissey, and the other neighbors on the street.
“The village can’t spend public money on private stuff,” Attorney Shawn Smith explained. “That [Cherry Lane] was set up as a private road.”
The problem, Mr. Falco said, began a year ago when two homes’ worth of raw sewage—human feces—backed up into their sink; they live in the last home on the lane.
Because the village refused to deal with it then, Mr. Falco said, they were forced to call Louie’s Plumbing and spend $2,000 to have roots and a section of the six-inch pipe repaired.
The line was scoped after the work was done and was clear, he said.
But then, Sunday, on just about the one-year anniversary of that back-up, it happened again.
“Is there anywhere we can go for help?” he asked. “It seems unreasonable to consider it a private sewer line.”
But it is, said Mayor Holmes, like those along Gilmore Drive and Donat’s Brow.
“You need to go to each of the property owners and say you need help taking care of it.”
But Ms. Morrissey said they don’t have that kind of money and neither do their neighbors, most of whom are elderly.
“You want us to go door-to-door?” she asked, incredulous. “Our deed says nothing about this being a private road.
“How can we live in our home when there are human feces in the sink? We pay taxes…You’re talking about more than our home is valued at.”
Engineer and consultant Brendon Becker said repairs to the line would be an excellent candidate for a Community Development Block Grant.
CDBGs are awarded in part based on income. If most of the homes on Cherry Lane are owned by elderly residents, the project would likely qualify.
Unfortunately, the deadline for 2019 applications has passed, meaning any funding would be more than a year away.
After discussion with the board, Mr. Falco agreed to look into whether a back-flow valve might solve their problem—he thinks the line at their home is likely too short—gather other possible solutions, and report back.
Though the problem is just with sewer so far, Water Superintendent Joe Redmond said he’s keeping his fingers crossed.
“I have a lot of correspondence on that street at the plant, most of it on the water,” he said. “You will have a water problem eventually. That water line is in pretty poor shape.”