Regarding the Town of Peshtigo drainage ditch issue, we can’t help but think of a classic line from the Paul Newman movie, “Cool Hand Luke.”

In the scene, the Captain (played by Strother Martin) beats prisoner Luke (played by Newman) and as he’s standing over him proclaims, “What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate.”

It’s a memorable line that is often referenced in situations when communication runs amuck.

Welcome to the Town of Peshtigo drainage ditch problem.

To summarize, the town board last month approved the digging of a drainage ditch on Heath Lane and awarded the contract to Road King Excavating of Peshtigo for $4,950.

Town chairman Herman Pottratz, at a special meeting Thursday, said the ditch was built to allow for drainage in an S-curve in the middle of Heath Lane. He said that area receives a lot of water because of spring snow melt and summer rainfall and that water has nowhere to go.

The ditch was dug in late July. Now some property owners, including Dan Biehl, are upset because they had no knowledge of the ditch being built. Biehl said he spoke to four supervisors who all believed the ditch work was slated to move east along Heath Lane, not west. He added that digging the trench exposed utility lines from Wisconsin Public Service and CenturyLink.

Biehl also is concerned about leach from the town’s old landfill site and per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) compounds being redirected into a nearby trout stream, which leads to the bay. He wants the ditch filled in and the road “restored to its original form.”

To be fair, some residents of Heath Lane have no problem with the ditch because the standing water problem is being addressed. An email from Kyle Rivet stating support was read on Thursday and Byron Peterson spoke in favor.

As far Biehl and other landowners on Heath Lane are concerned, could they have been informed of this project? It’s a simply communication issue.

It doesn’t look good when town supervisors vote on a drainage ditch and they believe the ditch was supposed to run east, not west. A breakdown in communication happened somewhere.

Moreover, Pottratz said all four supervisors accompanied him to the area in question on Heath Lane. They all denied making such a trip.

The board Thursday ultimately decided to hire an engineering firm to survey and identify the best way to install a ditch eastward on Heath Lane. Shouldn’t that have been done in the first place?

Tyco Fire Protection Products/Johnson Controls is a major player in this issue because the sampling wells installed by Tyco along Heath Lane had not produced any results before the ditch work was completed. Scott Wahl, senior program manager with Tyco, said last week the ditch project was news to the company and it may have compromised some of their sampling wells. He estimated it may cost “tens of thousands of dollars” to redo the wells.

Again, a serious lack of communication between the Town of Peshtigo and Tyco. But it gets better, or worse, as Pottratz and Tyco representatives got into a discussion Thursday about the communication struggles.

Pottratz said of Tyco, “I didn’t contact them, they don’t contact us to let us know what they’re doing.” As for the PFAS issue, the chairman said, “We really aren’t getting information on what’s out there already.”

Jim Cox, senior manager for marketing communications with Tyco, countered that the company is supplying the town with weekly updates. “What else do you want?” he asked.

At the end of Thursday’s meeting, the board unanimously passed a motion that requires Tyco to provide more specific data on scheduled work in the town and results from its testing wells to the town. Details were not provided on how the town will enforce that requirement.

Biehl suggested that the rift between Pottratz and Tyco needs to be mended because it’s affecting town residents. Pottratz took exception to the reference, but we believe Biehl made a strong point. The water issue in this area is too important to let personal feelings get in the way.

The Peshtigo Town Board needs to make well-informed decisions and Pottratz needs to better control the meetings — the special session on Thursday was a free for all. And all parties involved need to do a better job of communicating.

“A failure to communicate” makes for a great movie line, but in real life it leads to chaos.