LAKEWOOD - For the past 40 years, the area around Mall Boulevard in Lakewood has unsuccessfully tried to return to the wetlands it once was.
Since 1971, the Chautauqua Mall parking lot has had problems with flooding. The drainage for the parking lot on the Mall Boulevard side of the mall runs underneath the mall itself, according to David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor.
"If you stand out there in the parking lot, you can see that parking lot is lower than the rest of the area around it," Wordelmann said. "So, naturally the water is going to flow down into there."
The water collects between the used-car lot and WCA Outpatient Laboratory before going underneath the boulevard and joining the main drain, which runs underneath the mall. However, these drains are neither big or high enough to flow into the creek which rests between Wal-Mart and the mall and plug up, resulting in overflow.
"I don't think (past village officials) planned ahead when they did it," he said. "... Quite frankly, probably if we had to do it over again that means the mall probably wouldn't have been built in that location because it was probably wetlands back then."
The flooding issue cannot be fixed without a major structural overhaul. The topographical point where most of the flooding occurs is at the lowermost point of the area. Not only that, but the mall rests on private property - the village cannot go on to the property and do anything with the mall's drainage system.
Lakewood, being at the bottom of an incline, struggled with flooding problem for years. When Busti began to develop places like Hunt Road on top of the hill, the town at the time didn't build storage or runoff ponds to help with the drainage. As a result, the village found itself rebuilding its drainage systems to adequately handle the extra runoff. Over the years, Busti did put in more retention ponds which helped cut back on some of the runoff with which Lakewood deals.
However, the flooding problem in Lakewood is getting better. When the rest of the county flooded in June, Lakewood had little to no flooding problems.