Brownwood businessman Jerry Shepherd believes the city is liable for water damage caused by a collapsed, city-owned drainage pipe that runs along an easement on his property in a south Brownwood neighborhood.
    City officials are working with Shepherd to find a solution to the damage where Shepherd lives with his wife at 2514 Good Shepherd, where the drainage pipe abuts Willis Creek.
    City staff has looked at several options that range in cost from $200,000 to $500,000. Staff staff recommends a process known as a slip-line procedure which would cost $205,494 for materials and equipment rental, with the city using in-house labor.
    Shepherd spoke to the Brownwood City Council Tuesday morning and said his life has been “in a rut” since the damage — which includes a void under his driveway cracks in the floor of his home — was discovered 2 1/2 years ago. The drainage pipe runs under his driveway and under a corner of his home, Shepherd told council members.
     Shepherd said its’ time for the city to act. Haynes and City Manager Emily Crawford met with Shepherd at his home late Tuesday afternoon.
    Shepherd said he bought the home in 1977. The home was built over an existing drainage easement that was recorded in the official deed records before the home was built, a council agenda briefing sheet states.
    Shepherd filed a lawsuit against the city in July 2017. The lawsuit claims the city failed to implement a maintenance policy regarding the pipe and did not maintain it, and not warn the Shepherds that proper care was not being given to maintain the pipe. Council members have previously met in executive session to discuss the lawsuit.
    If the city and Shepherd can agree on the repair and settle the lawsuit, city staff will present a settlement agreement to the council for approval, the briefing sheet states.
    Shepherd told council members he did not favor the slip-line option, saying it would not repair damage that’s already occurred. Shepherd also said the city isn’t qualified to do that kind of work — but city staff responded that the city has been doing slip-line procedures for 15 years and worker know what they’re doing.
    In the slip-line procedure, a pipe would be assembled in one long piece and pulled through the existing drain pipe. The area between the new and old pipes would be grouted, and grout would be used to fill any voids under the joint driveway or property of Shepherd’s or his neighbor’s, council members were told.
    Other solutions city staff considered:
    • Installing a new drain pipe parallel to the existing pipe.
    • Re-routing the drainage pipe.
    •  Buying the Shepherds’ property and replacing the drain pipe.
    The slip-line solution “will repair the collapsed drain pipe, fill and stabilize any underground voids which might cause any instability …at the least cost to taxpayers,” council members were told.
    “What would make you happy on this?” councilman H.D. Jones asked Shepherd.
    “What are  you asking us to do?” Mayor Stephen Haynes followed up with his own question.
    Shepherd said it was difficult for him to define a solution. Shepherd suggested he’d like to see the city buy his property but said “that’s not the only thing I would agree to.”
    Haynes said the city could end up spending a large sum of money to replace a single drainage line and the range of solutions creates “an extraordinary expense that doesn’t benefit very many people … everyone on this council is saying there are not any good options.”
    Shepherd grew emotional when he said he’s sure he’s been the subject of criticism for filing the lawsuit against the city.
    “You haven’t taken any criticism from this council,” Haynes replied. “You’re a valuable member of the business community. You’re a good person. No one thinks otherwise. … I want your problem to be fixed as badly as you do.”
    Shepherd said he’s learned through the experience that “you’ve got a city manager that cares. She’s responded to me in a nice way when I haven’t been nice.”