Wood Village city officials looking for junk-flushing culprits; - KPTV - FOX 12

Wood Village city officials looking for junk-flushing culprits; $16K of damage done

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City officials in Wood Village are trying to figure out who is flushing paper towels down the toilets.

The city manager, Bill Peterson, said $16,000 of damage has been done so far, and they have narrowed it down to one location: the Wood Villa Business Center on Northeast Shea Lane. 

There are 31 units, and all of their sewage goes to a public system. City officials lifted up a manhole there and found paper towels, coffee filters, even part of a pipe.

While Peterson said they have had issues with clogging for a number of years, and he said now it’s time to do something about it. 

“Nobody likes to see this. This just isn’t pleasant stuff,” Peterson said, indicating the sewage saved in Ziploc bags by city workers.

He thinks products are changing, which means the people using them have to, too.

“When one gets a paper towel and does a little thing with it, 10 years ago that would disintegrate in your hands. It would just be this glob of goop. That’s not true now,” Peterson said.

So, city officials and the property owner have been working with tenants for months, trying to figure out who the culprit may be.

Tenant Vinnie Gray, who owns Allrite Towing, said he first heard about the issue eight months ago.

“They’ve come out to look at our trash cans, they’ve come out to look at our paper towels, you know. They’ve asked us to put signs up in our bathrooms,” said Gray.

But no one has fessed up. And now, the city is attempting to find a fair way to pay for the damage, asking the property owner to bear the burden.

Gene Davis, the Wood Villa Business Center property owner, told FOX 12 over the phone, “There’s has got to be some solution. I’m not so mad or irritated as I am frustrated because no one seems to be driving out a solution.”

Another tenant, Sid Gayton who owns Columbia Flooring Group, said he was initially blamed as being the only unit causing the problem.

“I was angry at first, yeah. I’m not going to say I wasn’t angry. I mean, to get blamed for something, one we just didn’t do, was very upsetting,” said Gayton.

Gayton told FOX 12 he spoke to neighboring units, and they told him they have not been flushing down inappropriate products either.

“It seems kind of silly, but I suppose there’s some people out there that don’t know the difference between putting paper towels and toilet paper down the toilet,” said Gray.

An email sent by the property owner last week reads each of his tenants owe $145, a cost no one feels they should pay.

“I feel bad for our landlord for what he has to go through, but I don’t think he should put it on us. We didn’t do it,” said Gayton.

Tenants told FOX 12 they blame the type of pump, which the city manager admits is prone to this type of clogging. But Peterson said the same type of pump operates at another business center in the city and they have not had any issues.

City officials said there is no easy solution. Emergency service calls several times a month have been racking up hundreds of dollars in city expenses for too long. The city manager said it’s time now for someone to pay.

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