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Zayna Mediterranean Restaurant, other local businesses struggle with debris and flooding from connecting wash

KGUN 9 speaks with the owner of the privately owned section of the Midway Wash
Zayna's Restaurant
Posted at 7:52 PM, Jun 24, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Updated June 30

KGUN9 is following the ongoing neighborhood impact of flooding from the Midway Wash as monsoon continues.

WATCH THE LATEST UPDATE ON FLOODING AT ZAYNA MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT BELOW:

Flood Watch: Continuing coverage at Zayna Mediterranean Restaurant

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Zayna Mediterranean Restaurant in Midtown is one of the many local businesses recovering from flooding on Saturday.

This restaurant has struggled with flooding due to a connecting wash that filters into the parking lot. The restaurant has a bridge in the parking lot for customers to cross the wash when it floods. One of the employees, Heather Smith, said she had never seen it flood like it did on Saturday.

“With all the debris piling up against it, it actually started bowing and cracking,” Smith said, describing the bridge.

The bridge was Smith's main concern when the floods hit the Midtown area on Saturday. That's why she jumped into action when one of her customers tried to leave the restaurant when it was too late.

“She was stuck, there was a branch stuck under her tire. I acted fast and pulled one of the other employees here and had to get in the water. The water was up to my knees. We had to pull the branch from underneath her car and eventually she was able to get loose,” said Smith.

The debris built up in the wash flows underneath the bridge, or it gets stuck, turning the bridge into somewhat of a dam. Smith and the owners at Zayna Mediterranean Restaurant are not only concerned about this damaging the bridge, but they're also concerned about the debris that flows through.

She's seen mattresses, shopping carts, and trash come out into the parking lot, which then flows into Belvedere Avenue. It's something she'd like to see cleaned and prevented, but the debris from the storm is still piled under the bridge despite her calls to the City of Tucson. The issue, the wash itself, is privately owned.

Around 40 years ago, the family-owned Arizona Pictures and Frames Gallery purchased the building. The wash came with it, according to the current owners, Celia and Megan McGoldrick. They described the situation as a struggle with the City of Tucson.

“We can't build on it, we can't do anything with it and apparently, it's the only section of the wash that isn't owned by the city. They said they need it for drainage," said Celia McGoldrick.

She said she's tried everything to be free of the responsibility of the wash, including selling it the City of Tucson for free.

“I can't afford to maintain it. I have cleaned it out every time they've told me to. Five or six or seven times, thousands of dollars. And it just grows back, and the debris comes back, and the homeless come back,” she said.

“It's a hot potato, we get why they don't want it, we don't want it. But something has to change,” her daughter, Megan, added.

KGUN 9 received a statement from the City of Tucson explaining its involvement. The City of Tucson clarified how much of the wash it owns. The photo below shows the highlighted area as what's owned by the McGoldrick family.

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The Department of Transportation and Mobility found records from 2018/2019 documenting the exchange between the city and the owners of the wash.

"The Midway Wash runs through private property north of Speedway until it meanders onto Belvedere Avenue. In 2018/2019 staff found an inquiry from the property owner (the McGoldricks/Picture Frame property) asking the city to accept responsibility for the wash. DTM Real Estate staff conducted a title report search and found no recorded evidence of the City accepting or buying the Midway Wash across McGoldrick’s property."
Michael Graham, City of Tucson Transportation and Mobility

The City of Tucson also provided a list of times it has provided maintenance around the wash.

October 25, 2023 – Maintenance crews picked up a wheelchair from the side of the street at 1138 N. Belvedere Avenue. The property owners asked DTM to clean up debris from the parking lot and the property owner was notified that the debris in the parking lot of the restaurant is the property owner’s responsibility to pick up. It has been stated to the property owner that they are responsible for cleaning the wash and any debris that is on their property, the city will not pick up debris that is on private property.

September 5, 2023 – Maintenance crews notified property owner that the City could not clean up debris in the parking lot because it is privately owned.

August 29, 2023 – Maintenance crews cleaned the area south of the address and south of the private wash in City right of way.

June 5, 2023 – Maintenance crews removed a shopping cart full of large tree branches on Belvedere Avenue at 1138 N. Belvedere Avenue.

In regards to the debris sitting underneath the bridge at Zayna's Mediterranean Restaurant from Saturday's storm, it could be a risk if another storm were to hit Midtown.

"My main concern is that eventually this debris is going to come down onto city property anyways. If they don't clean it up or help us now, even though it's on private property, then that debris is just going to be on city property anyways. It could affect other people around here that don't know there could be something floating down the river," said Heather Smith with Zayna Mediterranean Restaurant.

Because the wash flows into Belvedere Avenue, Smith said she believes there should be signage letting people know about the risks of driving the road.

KGUN 9 will continue looking into this situation and will be following up as the story develops.

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Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing reyna.preciado@kgun9.com or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.