Craft store has beef with town

Car­bon­ear road is­sues, plumb­ing prob­lems cause for com­plaints

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

Busy Hands Arts and Crafts is tak­ing the Town of Car­bon­ear to task over an is­sue its own­ers claim is pre­vent­ing cus­tomers from ac­cess­ing the business. But the town con­tends there are two sides to this story.

Michael Wil­liams and Wade Sharpe are sick of hear­ing, “blub, blub, blub” com­ing from the bath­room of their Car­bon­ear business.

The own­ers of Busy Hands Arts and Crafts on Wa­ter Street ac­quired the build­ing in Au­gust 2014. Dur­ing ren­o­va­tions, they had the plumb­ing hooked up. It had been left un­hooked for years while the prop­erty wasn’t in use as a business.

Wil­liams ex­plains that to un­der­stand how the noise be­gins, it’s nec­es­sary to watch the toi­let.

He turns on the faucet, and the noise be­gins. Sounds em­anate from the bowl and wa­ter be­gins to drain slowly. It doesn’t stop for over an hour.

“If some­one has to use the wash­room, we have to send them across the street to the civic cen­tre,” Wil­liams said, not­ing the em­bar­rass­ment they feel send­ing cus­tomers out the door.

It was then the cou­ple re­al­ized there were is­sues with the plumb­ing. Sharpe be­lieves the sewer pipe, which runs di­rectly be­hind the prop­erty into the ocean, was crushed dur­ing pre­vi­ous work by town coun­cil work­ers driv­ing heavy equip­ment over it for years.

Sharpe claims it was used for dump­ing de­bris and snow for many years.

Car­bon­ear di­rec­tor of pub­lic works Brian O’Grady told The Com­pass that in his seven years on the job, town ve­hi­cles have not been used on the prop­erty.

There is no in­di­ca­tion whether any­thing was dumped prior.

There are, how­ever, sev­eral ox­i­dized pipes and eroded blocks of con­crete be­hind the build­ing and along the beach. It is un­known where th­ese came from.

Wil­liams and Sharpe agree their sewer pipe is not part of the town’s sewer sys­tem. The town’s ac­cess is across the street, in front of the train sta­tion mu­seum.

“I can’t be­lieve the town didn’t re­quire (the plumb­ing) to be hooked up to the town’s sewer sys­tem years ago,” Sharpe said.

The town said all work to fix plumb­ing is­sues on a per­son’s or business’ prop­erty must be looked after by the prop­erty’s owner, which would in­clude run­ning their own plumb­ing to the curb from the back of the build­ing.

Don’t get wet

The sewer line is one of three prob­lems the cou­ple be­lieves are se­ri­ous is­sues that need to be ad­dressed. Another is wa­ter pool­ing in front of the prop­erty.

The business’ main en­trance is at the south of the build­ing. There are ruts and pot­holes in the pave­ment in front of their drive­way, which leads to a small, gravel park­ing lot.

Wa­ter gath­ers in th­ese spa­ces, and traf­fic drives through them, cre­at­ing a wave of wa­ter.

When it is rain­ing hard and ve­hi­cles are trav­el­ling faster than the speed limit, the wa­ter reaches past the en­trance and can po­ten­tially soak cus­tomers.

“The wa­ter col­lects at our door, from the run off from the higher area on Wa­ter Street, and on a rainy day a pa­tron would have to judge how fast they have to run to avoid be­ing soaked by pass­ing ve­hi­cles,” Wil­liams ex­plained.

Also, when ve­hi­cles drive through the pud- dles, the gravel on the park­ing lot gets pushed back, leav­ing holes at the en­trance. It is a hin­der­ance to those try­ing to park on the prop­erty.

Work was com­pleted on Wa­ter Street on the north side of their shop sev­eral weeks ago to help with the pool­ing is­sue. Town ad­min­is­tra­tor Cyn­thia Davis said the work com­pleted elim­i­nated that is­sue.

“Out­side staff cor­rected the wa­ter pool­ing is­sue a few weeks ago,” she told The Com­pass. “The sea had caused a block­age in the cul­vert where the storm wa­ter goes out to the har­bour. There may be some spray on the build­ing when the road is wet since the build­ing is so close to the street, but there is noth­ing that can be done for that.”

O’Grady con­firmed the work was com­pleted, and did what it was sup­posed to do.

“The town dug up a large storm cul­vert that is to the north of the build­ing run­ning from the Wa­ter Street curb to the ocean. This was cleaned and re-in­stalled. Since that time the wa­ter has been run­ning well and only a few pud­dles of wa­ter are in front of the build- ing. This is no dif­fer­ent than in many lo­ca­tions where the pave­ment is not per­fectly even.”

But Sharpe said the prob­lem was not elim­i­nated be­cause the south side of the build­ing has a lower el­e­va­tion.

“The wa­ter still pools there be­cause it can’t run up­hill,” he said.

“This past fall, some of the pave­ment was re­placed but the area where the most wa­ter col­lects was not in­cluded and is mere feet from our door­way,” said Wil­liams.

Side­walk needs re­pair

The third is­sue is the side­walk in front of the prop­erty. Wil­liams and Sharpe said they spoke with town man­age­ment, and a plan is in place to re­place it with a prod­uct other than con­crete, but that won’t hap­pen un­til at least the spring.

Davis con­firmed that some­thing with more of a her­itage feel will re­place the stan­dard side­walk later this year.

“I told him that we may re­move the old bro­ken side­walk and just place gravel there un­til next year, but we would not be re­plac­ing it at this time. If weather per­mits we may still get it re­moved be­fore win­ter sets in,” O’Grady said.

Sharpe and Wil­liams are more con­cerned about the safety of the side­walk than the es­thetic curb ap­peal.

“It’s just a mat­ter of time be­fore some­one gets hurt on that side­walk,” Wil­liams said. “Then, it’s too late. And it’ll be the town’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Pe­ti­tion for so­lu­tion

Wil­liams and Sharpe cre­ated an on­line pe­ti­tion on change.org called “Clean up your act Town of Car­bon­ear” call­ing on the town to fix the is­sues. A hard copy can be found in the store.

The business own­ers felt they had no other choice be­cause they were con­cerned for the safety of their pa­trons. So far, the pe­ti­tion has gar­nered a few hun­dred sig­na­tures.

O’Grady said the wa­ter pool­ing is­sue had al­ready been in progress be­fore the pe­ti­tion be­gan.

Sharpe is adamant that a sim­ple so­lu­tion will fix all the is­sues in one shot. He sug­gests have the build­ing hooked to the main wa­ter line. In do­ing so, the side­walk would have to be torn up. The old sewer pipe would no longer be an is­sue, since it wouldn’t be used any­more. And the pave­ment would have to get fixed after get­ting dug up.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Michael Wil­liams (left) and Wade Sharpe are the own­ers of Busy Hands Arts and Crafts in Car­bon­ear, and started a pe­ti­tion to en­cour­age the town fix the side­walk and ruts in front of their store.

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