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Meadowcroft Road Residents Complain of Sewage, Rats, Street Cave-ins

The West Deptford neighborhood has battled the effects of aging water and sewer infrastructure for a few years now, with repairs too expensive to fully address.

Video captured from the December 27 sewer leak on Meadowcroft Road. Credit: Nicole Olsen.
Video captured from the December 27 sewer leak on Meadowcroft Road. Credit: Nicole Olsen.
Something stinks on Meadowcroft Road.

John Carrero, who said he's lived in the development for 20 years, said the smell of sewage has persisted since the roadway infrastructure began to fail in recent years.

His neighbor Emily Fedor, who's lived there for 39 years, describes "a fecal smell" that persists on the block during the summer months that's "so bad we can't open our windows."

Then, in December, when the most recent sewer breakage occurred, Fedor said sewage spilled all over leaf piles in the street, which still remained uncollected for days after the incident.

She also recalled two roadway cave-ins on her street, one of which was just avoided by a school bus, she said.

"This street is rising and cracking all the way down," Fedor said. "They said they fixed it. The last time they fixed it was July, and my neighbor got three feet of sewage in her house."

"For 35 years, we didn't have this," she said. "When they opened this [street] up, we got rats in our house."

Next door, the Olsen family attested to the rat issue as well. With three dogs in the household, Lisa Olsen said, they're concerned that their pets could become sickened by an encounter with the animals, which they say are persistent.

Moreover, on a block of bi-level houses, they were none too thrilled at the prospect of sewage overflow infiltrating the improvements they've made to the below-ground rooms in their home.

"We're afraid that the roads, the way they're cracking up, they're going to start caving in or the pipes are going to break and we'll get flushed out," she said.

Frank Toth, whose home shares a property line with Rock Products, Inc., directly behind the development, said that he's seen plenty of rats, and claimed his husky, Tiffany, has already torn one apart.

"My dog got one rat and bit the thing right in half," he said.

It's also harder for residents on Meadowcroft to shake the feeling of second-class citizenry, as they continue to wait for a resolution to the issues that have become all too commonplace in their neighborhood.

"The last time they repaired the development was when I moved in," Carrero said. "If this was Sherwood, you wouldn't have this problem."

'Probably a $10 million project'

When reached for comment—prior to his removal at the January re-organization of West Deptford governmentthen-Township Administrator Eric Campo said he was aware of the situation on Meadowcroft Road.

Despite his sympathies for the plight of residents on that street, the sewer, water, and pumping station improvements it requires will cost about $10 million to correct.

"I appreciate their frustration," he said. "I've identified it as a place where we need to make investment for three to four years. We didn't get a capital ordinance this year, and until we get authorization, we'll have to continue to be reactive to these problems."

Campo said that short of securing low-cost loans from the state to make the needed improvements, they will likely require additional debt service.

"That's a normal process for every municipality," he said.

"Other than a project like the power plant, which did contribute $107 million over a 30-year period, you're not going to capture significant money just through growth to pay cash for these projects."

In the meantime, the residents of Meadowcroft Road will continue to wait.
Harry Knowles January 10, 2014 at 08:11 AM
Matt, nothing about how the large amount of existing debt the town has causes borrowing issues for the town???? Really?
Gary Kuehnapfel January 10, 2014 at 08:30 AM
To Harry Knowles: Once again you keep bringing up the past. The dem.'s are gone! This problem is this rep. admin. problem and they never have asked for help from the county or state. Maybe if they had not given away $3.6 m in tax candy there would be some money there to help with the problem.
Harry Knowles January 10, 2014 at 09:15 AM
Whatever Gary, your logic makes no sense. Point is, report the whole story, not half of .
zeke carey January 10, 2014 at 09:16 AM
Gary do you live on meadowcroft. Red bank estates was built on swamp and dumps before they built the parkway drive in. why didn't they build where the drive in and general engines were because of spoils. I sympathize with these people that live on that street and something should be done. Gary here is your chance for another law suit against the township for neglecting the situation. so let's blame it the democrats they caused the extensive debt who else is to blame. however township fix the problem for these people!
R Nichols January 10, 2014 at 09:58 AM
'Harry' would you mind giving us all a few details on the twp's 'borrowing issues'?' Remember a few months back when the DLGS said: “The debt service being paid by the municipality is high, but it is sustainable,” Neff said. “West Deptford has a record level of debt service, but they don’t have a record level of distress.” My question to the committee is this: WHY, if they've known these improvements were urgent & absolutely necessary, did they FAIL to get a bond ordinance this year & get the job done?! I'm sorry, there is no excuse for negligence.
R Nichols January 10, 2014 at 09:59 AM
Ps.. Our leaves are STILL in the damn street! Smh
Harry Knowles January 10, 2014 at 10:51 AM
Mr Nichols , good friends with mayor shields right? Ask him and let me know. Remember , he came up with the plan to hire our owner sewer/water replacement team to replace all the mains on town, was going to save us millions? You remember? , the team was going to be temporary remember mr Nichols? Those employees are still employed by the town but redbank estates has never been down, why??? This is the 90's I am talking about. Well the reason why is Riverwinds. We abandoned our residents needs for a building he could get a name on, plan and simple. My comment was to ask "why" we don't have the $10 mil to de these repairs. You know, some investigative reporting to show the whole picture. The residents of meadow croft deserve better and I expect this current admin will come up with something and maybe even Denice will offer something, I haven't heard a plan to fund that $10 mil ever come out of her mouth or a plan to get the leaves picked up which fell under her responsibility
R Nichols January 10, 2014 at 12:33 PM
Not sure why this is relevant- but, while I'm acquainted with Dave shields & think he's a nice person, I would not classify us 'good friends'. Either way, in spite of your convoluted history of why EVERYTHING should be blamed on anyone other than the people in charge RIGHT NOW, the real question is why THEY, as IN (ALL OF THEM) have done nothing so far, when NOTHING is preventing them from doing so?? Speaking of committeewoman DiCarlo, did she not REPEATEDLY warn the people doing the budget that irresponsible cuts to her dept. would cause this to happen?
R Nichols January 10, 2014 at 12:42 PM
Also- what were those borrowing issues again? (I'm not being sarcastic- just looking for more info)
Gary Kuehnapfel January 10, 2014 at 01:03 PM
To Harry Knowles: Oh how quickly you for get! Remember the July 25th, 2013 budget when this rep. admin. cut Denice DeCarlo's budget in almost half and called it FAT. Now your trying to say it's her fault! Sounds pretty Republican to me---- take no blame and through everyone else under the bus!!!
Dave Gill January 10, 2014 at 02:22 PM
I left West Deptford 25 years ago. I try and keep up with the news as to what's happening here, but every time a read about my old town it's depressing. Every time I go back and visit it's even more disappointing. It's really starting to look like a dump. Get it together up there.
Andrea January 10, 2014 at 02:36 PM
I've been living in W.D. for 35 years and am tired of the bickering. The Dems were fully supported when they invested in Riverwinds… it was a gamble and we all lost. Thats why the Reps are in office, not to blame anyone but to fix it.
Andrea January 10, 2014 at 02:38 PM
Take a look at the flooding on First Ave while your at it. The entire Meravan Farms is flowing into one pipe that goes into the Mantua Creek… another pipe is filled with concrete for some God-forsaken reason!!! and no one cares.
Harry Knowles January 10, 2014 at 04:20 PM
Denice's budget still has money in it..... Ask her at the next meeting....-all politics, it's a shame, really is
R Nichols January 10, 2014 at 04:30 PM
Aren't we on to the 2014 budget now? Also- again, what did you mean by borrowing issues? Do we have issues or not? & why?
zeke carey January 10, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Dave,how you doing we go way back. The tatum street days basketball,football and fights. good old days of WD. West Deptford has fallen on bad times for the past 25 years. Riverwinds was the biggest mistake the township could have done. dems hate rep,rep hate dems.you have lawsuit happy people in the township and of course every town has the village idiot ( wayne )
Kristi Simpkins January 11, 2014 at 03:17 AM
Dave, yes there are problems in the town & not everything looks wonderful. However why say something like that? Especially since you did reside here @ one time. The town does not look like a dump. Just because there are some problems does not mean that the entire town looks terrible. This is still a nice area to live in. The people of WD who still live here know that.
Kelly Petruzzi-Hiller January 11, 2014 at 08:06 AM
Can anyone say "lawsuits"? :/
Kelly Petruzzi-Hiller January 11, 2014 at 08:08 AM
I agree with Kristi btw. we moved to Wash twp from WD and what a difference! We miss WD and the cleanliness and the excellence we saw spec with public works. (we had to move here for a edu reason for our son w/spec needs).
Dave Gill January 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Zeke- I'm Dave's oldest son. I'll tell him you said hello. My parents moved to Florida and still spend their summers up at the shore in Strathmere. Kristi- I grew up in Colonial Manor & it looks terrible now and in my opinion, a lot of the neighborhoods look very run down in the town. And what the hell happened to Woodbury. It looks like Camden now.
Kristi Simpkins January 11, 2014 at 06:09 PM
Dave, no offense but your first comment was bad enough. Of course not everything in the town looks the same as it once did. However some of us do take pride where we live & take care of our homes. We can't help however how the whole town looks. There are people who need to do that job & it is sad that the job has not been done thus far. There is NO excuse that the people of this development or any other have to deal with such headaches & other stresses like they are dealing with. It is unacceptable what they are going through.
William Libby January 12, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Zeke - you say RiverWinds was a mistake? Of course I see all of the reps woking out there every day. Jeff Hansen called it the crown jewel of our township. Since you don't want to pay livable wages to your workers not a surprising comment from you.
Mike Duffy January 12, 2014 at 11:26 PM
It's a shame but this site seems like a bunch of political hacks. The truth hurts but the dems effed this townships finances up. Lets see what the newly elected party can do. They do have a huge hole to dig out of though. Good luck!
zeke carey January 13, 2014 at 09:16 AM
To William Liberal, I pay my employees well Quite a few have been with me for over 25 years,so if they were dissatisfied they could have moved on. The meadowcroft situation has been around for the past 7 years and nothing was done back then.when the previous committee brought it up in 2008 they just passed it on as oh well we'll address that issue later. it was never consider as their main resolution. that area has been plagued with problems ever since they built red bank estates. It was nothing but swamp and everybody dumped their trash. then they built parkway drive in and that went belly up. I feel sorry for the residents on that street and something should be done,SO WHY DIDN'T THE DOCIMO REGIME DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. RIGHT AWAY YOU FRICKIN PEOPLE WANT TO POINT FINGERS. Get Sweeney involved like he really cares.
Andrea January 13, 2014 at 09:25 AM
it does seem that all the problems the Democrats are complaining about have been around for years. How can they jump on the Republicans who have only just begun to mess things up. The Dems have had a strangle hold on W.D. since I've lived here 35 years…. and again… no one cares about First Ave which should be a relatively easy fix. Folks were telling them years ago the sewer is getting stopped up but they just found out how much is going down to First Ave (all of Meravan Farms) and that the more direct outlet was filled with concrete bc there was water washing against the foundation of a house. That house has been demolished and the pipe is still filled with concrete. So fix it.
Gary Kuehnapfel January 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM
To Zeke Carey: First of all Steve Sweeney has not been directly involved in twp. politics in over 4yrs. This will be the 3rd yr. that the Rep.'s have been in control. The only thing positive they've given us is a gas station at Wawa. Higher debt, loss of jobs, declining services and programs have been their legacy so far!
zeke carey January 13, 2014 at 04:27 PM
Gary,you make me laugh,you collect a payday from the taxpayers and you squabble about what the rep are doing where was your negative commenting when your so called party and dem committee people were shoving it so far up the residents butts.you had no voice then because they were lining your pocket. is there another one of your ficticious lawsuits in the making. and don't give me that sob story about disability that's another BS story. ever since the republicans took over you bad mouth them ever since.if you want to avoid the republican way pack and move or just sit back and reap the bennies that are given you by all the taxpayers in this town and state

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