Board member’s property complaint addressed

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013 12:00 am

Constituent Rick Kollar, known in other capacities as Ralston Board of Education Member Rick Kollar, has received a response from Ralston Public Schools to the formal complaint he filed with them in August.

Kollar’s home on Berry Street abuts a drainage canal. Kollar’s complaint alleged that the canal was part of a storm sewer owned by the City of Omaha, while the property on which the canal sat was owned by the Ralston Public Schools.

Since Kollar felt the canal had caused erosion to his property, exposing tree roots and an electric service pole and moving the ditch nearly a foot closer to his fence line in the 15 years he’s lived at the property, Kollar felt it was necessary to take action by sending a formal letter of complaint to the City of Omaha and RPS.

Board of Education President Linda Richards said the process for Kollar’s complaint was the same as it would have been for any other constituent, which kept the situation from becoming uncomfortable.

“Situations like this are why we have public comment on our board agenda,” she said. “If constituents have concerns that we can address with a resource within our district, we can have someone internally speak with them to answer questions or gather more information. This case had external implications, which is why I appointed a subcommittee to deal with it.”

Kollar received a response from that subcommittee early this month via a letter in which Richards details its findings.

The letter states that the subcommittee engaged the engineering firm of Lamp, Rynearson and Associates (LRA) to review Kollar’s complaint. The firm determined that the drainage canal has existed on that property since before the subdivision in which it sits, Turtle Creek, was created. When the subdivision was developed, the waterway was enclosed by a pipe.

“In 1969, a permanent sewer and drainage easement was recorded against both the school district’s and your property,” the letter states. “The easement now only belongs to the City of Omaha… The city acknowledged to LRA that the storm sewer is the responsibility of the City of Omaha. The city has acknowledged its responsibility for the runoff and associated erosion.”

The subcommittee also found that the Ralston school district did not “participate in, review or approve” any of the city’s efforts to stop the erosion. They concluded that the district was also “not responsible for either the storm sewer or the associated runoff.”

“Our investigation has revealed that both your property and the school district’s property may be affected by the City of Omaha’s management of its storm sewer,” the letter stated.

In an interview on Monday, Kollar said he was very satisfied with the response from the board.

“In my opinion, they did a very good job on determining the facts,” he said. “What it boils down to is that it needs to be a cooperative resolution between me and the school district now as far as going to the City of Omaha and saying, ‘You created this problem, what can we do to fix it now?’”

Kollar said he received a phone call from an Omaha city councilman’s representative a few weeks ago, but there was no follow-up and nothing formal has been sent to him. He doesn’t intend to let the issue drop, however.

His next step with the city will be to file an official claim against them after getting estimates on what it will cost to fix the fence and the erosion.

“I’m going to follow the process, because that’s all I can do,” Kollar said.

He is also hopeful RPS will be interested in helping him continue his efforts.

“I plan to have an informal conversation with Ralston to see what we can do as a joint effort to get the city to respond, since it’s just as much their problem as it is mine, since it affects their property,” he said. “I’m just so frustrated with the City of Omaha when they sit there and do things like this with no follow up at all. They never came down to take a look at this and see what kind of problems might have been caused. The city doesn’t care, because I’m just one fish in the pond.”

Richards said the district is not interested in pursuing the issue any further.

“Along with Rick, our property is also being damaged, but we, at this point, do not have the desire to pursue that issue,” she said.

“It’s not in a position where that’s too concerning for us. Our concern was who was responsible for the issue Rick brought forward. We found we didn’t have a responsibility in this, so it ceases to be an issue for the board.”

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