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Owner: 'It looks like a moat' -- but it should be a ditch

6:42 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Miruelo Drainage project promises improvement, but now that it is near completion, the project is creating a storm of controversy.

"When we moved here in 1983 we had a little bit of a slope," said Betty Berrey.

Butch and Betty Berrey live at the corner of Manata Street and Miruelo Circle and noticed that the ditch in front of their property kept getting wider and deeper.

"It looks like a moat," said Betty.

The project is a combination of buried pipes and open ditches.

"This is not what I thought it would be," said Betty. "My daughter said lets fill it with water and and some alligators."

Adding to their frustration is the project required more of their front yard, and it removed whatever parking space there was on the shoulder of the street.

"It is really frustrating. If we have guests, everybody will have to park in the backyard I guess," said Betty.

The Miruelo drainage project cost $1.5 million and is designed to relieve storm water flooding.

"I was born and raised in Jacksonville," she said. "I don't remember ever seeing a ditch that wide and that deep."

They know the project is essential, but they question the way it was designed.

"Everybody walk by and look at it and shake their head, so I guess we are not the only one who think it is strange," Betty said.

The district's councilwoman, Lori Boyer, has been investigating the residents concerns. Boyer said she was told that the ditch is not at final grade and will not be that deep or wide when complete. 

"I oppose all the ditches and think the project should have been piped," said Boyer. "I am concerned the lack of sidewalk and the public safety hazard created." 

"If the Mayor's staff says the project is correct and takes no action, I have limited recourse," said Boyer.

The project engineer said they will look at the plans again, but the ditches are required by the St. Johns water Management district and any changes would have to approved by them

The project is scheduled for completion in January 2014.

First Coast News

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