A dispute is developing between a northeast Oklahoma City neighborhood and a church.
Oakdale Valley homeowners say Oakdale Baptist Church's construction site is ruining their lake.
The neighborhood lake turned murky about a month ago. Neighbors say the mud is coming from the construction project happening at the top of a hill, but the contractors say they are not the only ones to blame.
Lingo Construction dug into the Oakdale Baptist Church expansion months ago, but September's heavy rains recently sent the dirt cascading downhill.
Homeowner Joe Arcisz says, “The water and the sediment was just barreling over the tops of the silt fence.”
A Lingo representative tells News 9 they have gone above and beyond the city's erosion control requirements, saying in a statement:
“Lingo Construction has and will continue to work responsibly with our clients and surrounding communities. During initial setup of the project, Lingo secured proper permitting and has installed erosion control measures well beyond what was required in the approved plans. Along with much of the state, we have faced repeated heavy rains and have continuously repaired and supplemented erosion controls. Our work has been observed and reviewed by authorities having jurisdiction. It is worthwhile to note, an adjacent creek, totally outside of our project, feeds the pond and has been flowing with unfiltered red stormwater bank-to-bank on multiple occasions. Lingo Construction will continue to do our part to control stormwater runoff for our project.”
The resulting mud still has not settled, frustrating Arcisz and his neighbors.
“It’s the jewel of our neighborhood. It’s got a walking trail around it, everybody enjoys it, and it’s really just sad,” says Arcisz.
The contractors have added new erosion control measures over time, including concrete berms which Arcisz says just appeared within the past week.
The City has inspected the site seven times, confirming it is in compliance but admitting the regulations do not account for heavy rains.
City Environmental Protection Manager Raymond Melton says, “When we get three- and four- and five-inch rains at a time, a lot of the erosion control measures will not stand up to that.”
Arcisz insists rain is not the issue, as he has never seen the lake this dirty for this long.
“We’ve had nine months in the past ten years where we’ve had at least as much or more rainfall that we’ve had recently and no impact to our lake,” says Arcisz.
The City hopes a more permanent solution to install sod will soon get underway.
“With the rains we’ve had it’s hard for sod farmers to get out there and cut it,” says Melton. “Plus, they’ve got to lay it.”
Right now, the neighbors are just trying to figure out the best way to turn the lake blue again.