Water main progress threatened by weather


October 14, 2019

The city water main replacement project is 8% complete, that’s according to Wade Senger of Interstate Engineering. He gave the city commission an update on the project during its Oct. 7 meeting.

The lead contractor, BEK Consulting, has requested its first partial payment for work done thus far, a total of $436,318. Senger said that approximately 12% of the water main has been installed, or 3,000 ft. of the 27,000 total planned for the project. Paving is on hold however, Senger added, due to the winter storm in the forecast. The weather will determine if the asphalt work gets done this fall. At minimum, the streets will be swept and the soft spots firmed up in preparation for asphalt and concrete.

Work on Second and Third Avenue continues, as a few compaction tests have failed. The contractor will need to either dig out the soft spots, dry the material and recompact or bring in more dry material and compact. Senger said load tests will be done prior to paving to ensure that the surface is firm.

Bacterial samples were taken on the new permanent water lines. Provided the tests came back favorable, BEK planned to begin removing temporary water on Wednesday.

A crew from Carstensen Contracting was on scene Monday to begin directional drilling on Seventh and Eighth Streets. Pipe fusing work began the week prior, as with this method all the pipe for one run needs to be connected before it is put in the ground.

Commissioners will decide next month how to handle lead lines that connect vacant lots to water. Senger recommended that the city contact each property owner to discuss any plans for new construction. He noted that once a lot is improved and service connected its important to retain that level of service so a home or other structure built upon the property in the future has access to utilities.

Plans and specifications for the city’s water treatment plant improvements are about 50% complete, Senger reported. They await an answer from the Department of Environmental Quality before determining how much additional land the city will need to purchase for wastewater treatment.  Public Works Superintendent Bruce Hirchert said that city workers were preparing for snow removal with a winter storm in the forecast. The new furnaces are in Memorial.

The city’s budget hearing began at 7:30 p.m. As no members of the public made comment on the budget, it was approved as presented.

Applications for five building permits were submitted to the city this past month, including two new garages on residential property. Commissioner Kelly McKnight asked about the city’s building ordinance and who ensures that new structures are built to code. She was particularly concerned about making sure that they are not built on the right-of-way, citing a recent example where a fence line was installed on the boulevard. In that situation the property owner actually moved his fence back so as not to encroach upon city property. She said it’s more difficult with actual structures, because moving them is not as easy once footings are in the ground or concrete poured.

City Attorney Travis Peterson noted that the building ordinances call for a “building official” to ensure that all construction work complies with the ordinances. Right now Auditor George Ritzke or Hirchert drive by to check on construction activity, but neither has been officially designated as the building official. Commissioners decided to take a closer look at the ordinance and address any gaps at the next meeting.

The five building permits were approved, along with three applications for housing incentives and a gaming permit for the American Legion. In addition, four property owners will have unpaid water bills levied against their property and added to their 2019 tax bills.

One bid was submitted for the installation of the new generator at the water plant. Yri Electric’s bid of $14,490 was accepted.

Discussion was held regarding the city’s payloader. Commissioner Stu Richter suggested that the city purchase an extended warranty and keep the payloader rather than trade-up. He explained that the dealer offered a three-year parts and labor warranty for $7,560, much less than the $50,000 needed to trade it in for a newer model.

Hirchert said he has issues with the current payloader and prefers to trade it in. He cited poor traction, lack of power and other performance concerns. Richter offered to address the performance issue with the dealer, and Commissioner Ryan Hager suggested that they bring in another machine to demo before making a decision on the matter. The current lease is up next month.

An audit of the city’s financial statements was recently completed for the years 2017 and 2018.

“We commend the city for maintaining financial records in overall good form,” the report read.

According to President Calvin Packard, there were no recommendations and no findings. “Excellent job,” Packard said to Ritzke.

The next city commission meeting is set for Monday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.


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