Coal Mine acting as a sump?
How much public money has been spent so far on
this industrial wasteland?
The Mt. Braddock Industrial Park seems to have become more of the "ghetto" of county industrial
parks. It's certainly not even mentioned on the website for the Fayette County Redevelopment
Authority as part of that agency's glorious developments or past achievements. There are no signs of
an industrial park name even on site.
The Mt. Braddock Industrial Park is now located in the shadows of the more uppity Greater Uniontown
Industrial Park, a short walking distance away. These industrial parks are not to be confused, either,
with the as of yet undeveloped Dunbar Industrial Park, all within walking distance from one another --
and all across Route 119, from the more developed and up and coming, more white collar than blue,
University Industrial Park, on Eberly Drive.
But make no mistake, however, the back part of the Mt. Braddock Industrial Park is an entirely
different world as far as industrial parks go. It's always just one hard rainfall from disaster. It didn't
used to be that way, doesn't have to be that way and should have been fixed already.
Until about 10 years ago, flooding was not a problem there. Business was good for people like Steve
and Natalie Laskey, who own a restaurant appliance business there, across from the Mt. Braddock
Post Office, at the back portion of the park.
When development started closer to Route 119, at the north or top part of Mt. Braddock Road,
however, his flooding problems and sewage back up problems started. Another business a few yards
away from his also experienced sewage back ups, and the owners sold it in 2013. The new owner has
invested a few hundred thousand dollars into upgrading the building so far. He hasn't been flooded
None of them have had the sewage back ups for at least a year or so, knock on wood. Sewage shut off
valves seem to have resolved that issue, but the flooding continues. Laskey's new neighbor in the
industrial park was willing to take that chance. News that the county wants to build a prison and hall of
justice and God knows what else north of the railroad tracks doesn't sit too well with the folks south
of the tracks for good reasons.
Businesses that haven't flooded to date stand a good chance of flooding in the future. Businesses
that have flooded on back side of the park may be flooded with more of a vengeance than in the past
since the jail will be built north of the railroad tracks. Nobody wants to talk about correcting the man-
made mistake of cutting off water's natural flow to Gist Run.
How much public money so far has been spent on the Mt. Braddock Industrial Park is anyone's guess.
Nobody will really say, but the answer is pretty easy.
Either developers spent way too much in the first place. Or they haven't spent enough, to fix man-
made errors that development brought to the back end of the industrial park.
K2 Engineering Documents The Man-Made Errors:
As per a report from K2 Engineering obtained, a pond located on an nearby property receives storm
water discharge from several adjoining properties and developments, including developments
located north of the SW Penn Railroad right of way. This pond on the Gallo property is not identified in
any known NPDES permit or storm water management plan and did not exist prior to 1968, as per the
The pond has no emergency spillway, piping or other means of discharge to Gist Run. The elevated
surface water of the pond has impacted the local GWT and has significantly altered the natural
drainage of Laskey's property.
Storm water runoff has been deliberately channeled onto Mr. Gallo's property with the presumption
that the storm water would drain to Gist Run. This includes a significant amount of runoff from north of
the SW Penn RR right of way. Pipes located below the RR right of way have existed at least since 1939
and were placed there to direct runoff into the original natural drainage discharge features that once
parallelled the tracks and connected to Gist Run. Alterations to these downstream channels have
since prevented the storm water discharge from reaching Gist Run. Gist Run has always been the
single drainage feature for this watershed. There are currently no drainage channels
through the Holt-Bugbee and DMC properties that connect the western
portion of the watershed, or the diverted storm water runoff from the
Universal Drilling development north of the railroad into Gist Run.
The obstruction of the discharge channels has resulted in the formation of a large pond and wetlands
currently present on the Gallo property. The pond has no means to discharge to Gist Run (the natural
stream course). No spillway or other method of release has been constructed to address flooding.
There is no information to indicate this pond was designed to serve as a storm water retention or
detention facility by any of the surrounding developers or adjacent property owners. Current NPDES
permits for Universal Drilling located north of the RR right of way indicates the point of discharge is
Gist Run, however, there is no means by which their storm water runoff can reach Gist Run.
The first appearance of the pond occurs after grading of the areas that are now occupied by Holt-
Bugbee and Dynamic Materials Corps, and prior to Holt-Bugbee or Dynamic Materials actually
occupying the sites. It is clear from several photos that prior to the Uniontown Greater Development
Authority's filling in (disturbance) of the property now occupied by these businesses, there were no
ponds or wetlands on Gallo's property and there was no flooding of the adjoining properties... The
pond and wetlands are not naturally occurring features but man made conditions created by improper
or inadequate storm water management controls ignored during development of the area.
There is some secondhand accounting that an underground mine in the area served as a sort of
"sump" preventing the ponds development. Although a mine may have been able to take in some
runoff, this would in no way justify sealing off the natural drainage channels to GIst Run. Basically,
these channels would have carried away any runoff that was not "absorbed" by the mine works. I
doubt the DEP would have agreed to allow the use of an underground mine as part of any storm water
Engineering plan addresses development north of the railroad tracks
The entire drainage shed has been significantly altered resulting in an increase in the volume of
runoff. This includes development north of the railroad where runoff has been diverted onto Mr.
Gallo's property through pipes placed below the railroad right of way. Unfortunately, historic drainage
paths to Gist Run have been cut off resulting in the formation of the pond, wetlands and periodic
flooding of adjoining properties. The ponds capacity to retain and manage storm water is inadequate
and there is little infiltration occurring. The result of the high level of water in the impoundment has
altered the local ground water table. By creating a condition where the ground remains saturated for
an extended period of time and due to the naturally poor infiltration characteristics of the area soils,
even minor rainfall events result in flooding. Laskey's property is at or near the same elevation as the
ponds surface and therefore unable to drain. Because the area is unable to drain to Gist Run, the
pond has significantly increased in size. During large rainfall events the pond overflows onto Laskey's
Other reports that Laskey has sought totaled correction of the project to reverse the man-made
flooding problem to be under $200,000. Everyone from the DEP to the state auditor general has
confirmed in writing that Universal Well Services did receive permission 7 years ago to complete a
storm water drainage project, but that the status of the project is still pending completion.
Universal staff told this editor earlier in the week that a pump station was installed there, and that, in
his opinion, Laskey's flooding results from run off water. Special projects director Mike Gloecker of
Universal also told this editor incorrectly that wetlands always existed in the back part of the Mt.
Braddock Industrial Park.
Laskey, on the other hand, attributes some of the flooding to run off, especially since the township
ball field was put in near his property. But Laskey disagrees that wetlands were naturally occurring.
He has powerful documentation to prove that the wetlands resulted from man-made errors.
He wants the water flow to Gist Run reopened so that the abandoned coal mine that K2 Engineering
felt could be acting as a sump to handle routine runoff doesn't fill and overflow to flood his property
when hard rains fall and cannot handle all the flow from Mt. Braddock properties to his north in the
Laskey wants the man-made errors corrected. The county certainly owes it to him to correct the
problems before any more profits are made from the selling of any additional land or pods. They owe it
to Laskey, Gallo and others in the industrial park to make sure funds are allocated, tracked -- if they
were previously allocated, misspent or spent on another project -- and restored for the purpose
Developers and agents selling the land have an obligation to make it right. And the county has an
obligation to ensure that things are done right, whether the jail is built there or not.
19 Mar 14
Engineers say digging a trench to reopen
the path of water to Gist Run would
prevent future flooding. To the right, a
trailer floats to the right of Laskey's
building over flooded solid land. Bottom
Right: Laskey's business suffers flooding
with each rainfall over 1 inch at a time.
Four times the floods were mixed with
sewage. Below: Hockey teams could
practice in the driveway when flooding
happens, temperatures drop and thick ice