Leawood neighbors paying thousands to fix pond problem they say city helped create

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LEAWOOD, Kan. — A group of homeowners in Leawood believe the city is avoiding an issue it helped create.

Eight homeowners whose properties surround a pond in Leawood are paying $150,000 to have it dredged and the sediment hauled off. It’s a cost they don’t mind paying this time, but they said it’s a Band-Aid to a bigger problem.

“It’s been a sore issue for a long time, and we finally got to a point where he had to get it dredged, and it’s a lot of money,” said John Rusgus, one of the neighbors.

The pond is the first of seven between W. 95th and 98th streets, near Manor Road. It’s located on private property, and more than 70 of the city’s stormwater drains pour straight into it, a growth that spans the last 40 years.

“They’re dumping their water and stuff into our backyard. Why wouldn’t they help take care of us?” Rusgus said.

Neighbors said when it rains, all kinds of debris, including road construction and yard waste, lands in their pond, some of which settles to the bottom. Flooding is also an issue.

“It’s damaging our backyards when it flows out of the banks and erodes our backyards,” Rusgus said.

The ponds, originally built in the 1950s, weren’t made to handle the excess volume, according to neighbors. They believe the city knows volume is an issue or else it wouldn’t have increased the size of the culverts that flow into the pond some years back from 18 inches to 4 feet.

“It’s really just unfair,” Rusgus said.

The group of homeowners have tried working with the city to find a solution but last Monday received an email from the city’s attorney that read: “As far as the city is concerned this matter is closed.” Neighbors said the city won’t even agree to a meeting.

On Wednesday, FOX4 briefly spoke with the city administrator, Scott Lambers, who said because the pond’s on private property, the city does not assume any liability.

“This is the city’s water that’s dumping into our backyards,” Rusgus argued. “Somehow, long-term, they need to maintain it, and we’re just asking for help.”

Neighbors filed a lawsuit against the city regarding this matter in 2006, but the case was dismissed. They didn’t have the money to keep fighting.

Dredging usually is done every 20 years, but the homeowners tell FOX4 bids they’ve received from companies suggest, due to the increase in hard surfaces in the area, the pond may need to be dredged every 5-10 years – unless there’s a more permanent fix.

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