Sewage seeps into Tom Byrne Park

Published 7:02 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

By By Tim Cottrell
Due to last week's heavy rains, Lindberg Avenue was inundated with sludge from the overflowing sewer, most of which flowed into Tom Byrne Park.
Jeff Haney, head softball coach at Escambia County High School, discovered even more problems at the park.
"I was going to get some equipment Wednesday," Haney said. "I saw a bunch of water pouring out of the shed, and opened the door and thought it was water, but the smell gave it away."
The bathroom and equipment storage shed located just behind the softball field at the park had overflowed with sewage. Haney was unsure of the exact cause.
"I'm not sure if it came through the drains or through the toilets," Haney said, while pointing out the foul smell in the men's restroom at the park. "All I do know is that it was an inch, or an inch-and-a-half deep of sludge."
Atmore Parks &Recreation Director Melvin Middleton declined comment, saying the utilities department would be more useful for information.
Tom Wolfe of the City Gas &Water Department was also contacted, but was unable to comment due to jury duty.
Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said the city would not stand idly by.
"We're working just as hard as we can possibly go on it," Shell said. "There are a lot of problems there. When we have a lot of rain the system there tends to get overloaded. There are a couple of areas we're working on. We're currently trying to get grants to work on it. We're not trying to sweep it under the rug; we are trying hard to fix the problem, but it takes a lot of money and a lot of time."
Residents of Lindberg Avenue have complained in the past about problems with the sewer backing up. Haney felt the problem went deeper than being an annoyance.
"It's a public health issue," he said. "Not only do these high school kids come play ball here, but we have the little league around here, too. Not only that, but little kids play around here all the time. It's ridiculous."
Atmore Cal Ripken Baseball held tryouts at Tom Byrne over the week, no reports of health issues have surfaced.
Haney said money was an issue as well.
"There was probably thousands of dollars in equipment that was damaged or ruined," Haney said. "We lost a chest protector. It was sitting on the floor. Luckily it was one of our old ones, but who is going to want to use equipment that's been sitting in filth?"

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