North Tonawanda residents frustrated over drainage issues

NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB)- Dennis and Kristen O’Sullivan knew there was a detention pond in their back yard when they bought their home on Walter Drive just off Witmer Road in North Tonawanda four years ago.

“They told what it was, is that in particularly big storms it could fill up but then within 24-48 hours it should drain,” Dennis explained.

The couple had no idea the drainage would be such an issue.

Kristen said according to the builders, eventually grass could grow over the detention pond once it dried out and they’d be able to walk over it; that hasn’t been the case.

The detention pond feeds into Donner Creek. It’s required to be there by the DEC to help manage runoff.

“I put my hand in there, and it’s a couple inches deep” Kristen said, as she placed her hand along the side of the pond.

The depth isn’t the only problem for the O’Sullivans; the sitting water smells, and they often find dead animals here.

The couple has two young children, so they put a fence up around their property to block off the pond for safety.

If you walk through the soggy area long enough, you’ll stir up some of the older water and smell the stench.

“It has filled up as high as 18 inches in particularly bad storms, especially in a typical rain year,” Dennis said.

The O’Sullivans pay around $8,000 a year in property taxes, and feel the city has been sluggish in making their concerns a priority.

City Engineer Dale Marshall told News 4 this is a case of buyer beware.

The pond is inspected annually, but he said the O’Sullivans should have been clear about what they were buying.

He said the city is doing its best, but there’s only so much crews can do.

Right now the city is working to improve flow of the Donner Creek with a restoration project.

The restoration would achieve access to the creek, which could help the O’Sullivans with their problem too, but the city is hitting road blocks; not all neighbors have agreed to sign an easement.

Some of the neighbors are worried an easement would impact their property values if they wanted to sell.

Since the last Common Council meeting, the city has been out the O’Sullivan’s property to work on a solution.

The couple told News 4 they feel the city is trying and also appreciate where their neighbors are coming from; they’re just sick of the mess. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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