Melrose moves meeting over sewage backup incident as more complaints surface

Melrose moves meeting over sewage backup incident as more complaints surface

MELROSE, Mass. — The Melrose Board of Aldermen was initially set to call city officials to the podium to demand answers on Monday night, but made the decision to hold off for two more nights for the sake of those residents who either hadn't heard about the meeting or weren't able to attend on short notice.

The Board did begin by opening up the mic for public comment, but there were no comments made. This comes three weeks after last month’s sewer backup on Brazil Street sent raw sewage bursting up into four homes.

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The findings of a review commissioned by the City of Melrose blamed the nasty and devastating situation on outdated sewer pipes, an accumulation of solidified grease and a tangle of roots.

Those affected and others who live in Melrose blame the city, and they believe the city should be paying for the cleanup and repairs. They say Mayor Gail Infurna’s administration is failing to communicate to homeowners and to the Board of Aldermen.

"It has almost been a month, and everything is really disappointing. They didn’t give us a clear answer," said Jenny Zhou, who's currently staying in one bedroom at her friend's place with her husband, their 7-year-old twins and their 5-year-old.

"It's the worst summer ever, the kids are in summer break, they have nowhere to go, I have to work and we have to deal with this situation."

"Sometimes we were finding things out from the news media rather than internally within City Hall," said Monica Medeiros, Melrose Alderman at Large, who added poor communication from the mayor’s office to the Aldermen has made it tough to communicate with residents.

Medeiros had a hand in filing the order requiring city officials to appear in front of the Board of Aldermen, which is now scheduled to happen in two days on Thursday.

Nearly a month after that raw sewage backup occurred, complaints of a similar encounter surfaced at Melrose City Hall.

Two homeowners on Waverly Place in the city claim four inches of sewage bubbled up in their homes in June of 2018.

"The sewage slowly seeped through [the] wall and our carpet and everything soaked on bottom," said Cindy Yu of Melrose.

Yu and her boyfriend Wing Siu say it took more than six months to even hear back from the city's insurance agent, who ultimately blamed the problem on them and the neighbors in the townhome who they share a wall with.

"It's totally unacceptable, the city's deferred maintenance is not our problem," said Ann Bentley, a condo administrator. "The sewer lines can't accept all these new buildings they're putting in, all these units."

Bentley claims the city of Melrose eventually offered to pay half of the approximately $27,000 spent for both homeowners' cleanup and repairs.

She now wonders if the affected homeowners on Brazil Street will see a different outcome.

"At this point I don't trust anything from government, we aren’t getting any answers," Bentley said.

"This could happen to anyone, just as it happened last year to Waverly, this year to Brazil."