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City council listens to citizens concerns, complaints about soil erosion and run-off

GLENWOOD CITY — The common council of Glenwood City  found itself in the midst of a muddy mess during its regular monthly meeting held Monday, October 13 in the municipal building.

A pair of frustrated residents and property owners appeared before the council during the public comments portion of the meeting to address an ongoing problem with soil erosion and run-off on to their properties from an adjoining property on the north side of the city. 

At issue, is the heavy soil erosion and the subsequent run-off from a field east of Third Street (County Road X) following rain storms that is sending water and mud into neighboring properties between E. Walnut Street and  the top of the hill.

Roger Lindelof and Cindy Thompson attended Monday evening’s meeting to voice their concerns and frustrations with the continuing problem and cleanup they face due to the excessive soil run-off on to their properties the past several years.

Lindelof addressed the board, reading from a statement he had prepared for the meeting.

“I and several of my neighbors have an ongoing problem with field run-off, “ he began. “For the past six years or so, we have had to deal with large amounts of silt and mud washing down from the field on the north and east sides of my house (located at 725 third Street), and at times into our basements.”

Lindelof said that the field in question had been used for hay and alfalfa which held the soil but recently corn has been planted causing the soil to continually wash down hill during rains.

“This summer it has been especially bad due to the frequent heavy downpours of rain,” continued Lindelof . “Not only are our homes affected, but the gush of water from the fields has washed great quantities of mud and gravel from the ditch in front of my house into the city’s storm sewer.”

Lindelof told the council that he has spoken several times with both the landowner and the farmers renting the land about the issue with no relief or progress towards a solution.

“There has been no effort by either (land owner or renters) to correct the problem,” an exasperated Lindelof told the council.

Lindelof did say that a no till method was used prior to the planting of corn this year but that it had little to no effect. He continued by telling council members that corn was planted right to the property line leaving no grass buffer zone and that proper soil conservation methods have not been adhered to.

“On half the hillside above my house, the corn rows ran up and down rather than across the hillside enabling the water, silt and mud to run freely down into my yard,” Lindelof stated.

There used to be green (grass) waterways where the water would drain from the field said Lindelof but those have been plowed under creating deep gullies.

He has taken to building wooden barriers along the shared property lines to hold back the mud but Lindelof stated that the barriers have eventually filled up and are now overflowing every time there is a heavy downpour.

He shared pictures of the structures he had built with the council. Each showed soil overflowing the wooden barriers.

Lindelof stated that last year alone, he, his son and a nephew had to remove dozens of wheel barrow loads of mud and silt out of the yard and this year is no different.

Lindelof also relayed the issues other properties owners are enduring saying that the renters in one of Cindy Thompson’s properties can not use the basement shower because the water and mud have flowed into it. He also noted that a shed on the Carolynn Tuttle property just east of the Thompson rental has had a shed dislodged and moved by the flow of mud.

Thompson, who has a pair of rental properties on the east corners of Third and E. Walnut Street, told the council the mud on her properties have been up to eight inches or more in depth.

“We have been dealing with this problem for a number of years,” Lindelof explained. “Not only is this a nuisance to clean up, but it devalues our properties.”

“The landowner and farmers renting the land assume no responsibility for the damage and display an attitude of indifference,” added Lindelof. “They seem to care less and the problem plagues us year after year.”

“I am at the end of my rope because I have talked to these people and they have done nothing about this!” stated Lindelof. “Some way they have to be held responsible for this.”

Glenwood City’s Director of Public Works Doug Doornink, when questioned by council members, stated that soil is still washing into the city’s storm sewers in that area.

“Last year we had mud all the way down to Cenex (on First Street),” Doornink said.

The council was unsure if the city ordinance could address the issue.

“I am not sure this is a civil issue or city issue,” said Mayor John Larson.

Prompting Lindelof to say, “I have heard that it is between me and the landowner and I am sick of it.”

Councilperson Ken Peterson also was unsure if the city could step in.

“If it was in the city sewer then we could enforce it but I’m not certain we can step in (between property owners). I do, however, agree that the landowners should be responsible to keep the dirt within their property boundaries.”

Lindelof and the council discussed the issue for several more minutes finally prompting Lindelof to ask if there could be a new ordinance made.

After further debate, Mayor Larson told Lindelof that there is “No question, what is happening to you folks is not right.”

Lindelof said that he would appreciate anything the council could do.

“None of you would be happy if this was happening to your properties,” concluded Lindelof.

Bid Awarded

The council reviewed bids for the replacement of the sanitary sewer at the St. Croix County Fairgrounds and a fire hydrant on West Oak Street in front of Ormson’s Super Valu.

Kevin Oium of Cedar Corporation was at the meeting to present the bids for the project and answering any questions.

Oium told the council that eight companies had pulled the plans for the project and that five had actually submitted bids which Oium said was an impressive number.

The five bids ranged from $70,656.25 from Albrightson Excavating of Woodville to $131,107.27 from Peterson Companies. McCabe Construction tendered a bid of $77,533.00; A-1 Excavating came in at $84,727.00 for the project; and Haas Sons, Inc.’s bid was for $87,923.75.

Oium recommended that the council accept the low bid presented by Albrightson Excavating.

Councilperson Steve Lee asked about additional costs for dewatering should the contractor run into excessive water which is known to be a concern in the West Oak Street and fairgrounds areas.

“They are aware that there is a lot of water and that there may be a need for dewatering,” said Director of Works Doug Doornink.

The project will also eliminate the sanitary sewer run that goes under the city’s recycling build added Doornink.

After a brief discussion, the council unanimously voted to accept the bid from Albrightson’s Excavating for $70,656.25.

Oium informed the council that Albrightson’s could begin the project this coming week and should have it completed in about a week’s time.

A reading of the operation evaluation report for phosphorus at the Waste Water Treatment Plant was tabled until next month. Doornink did tell members, however, that the report was submitted by the October 1 deadline as required.

Borrowing Authorized

Council members also unanimously approved an authorization to borrow $125,000 from Hiawatha National Bank in Glenwood City to pay for the city’s new ambulance which went into service this past May.

Larson told the council that the terms of the loan called for a 3.8 percent interest rate with seven annual payments of approximately $21,000 each.

Loader

Whether to repair the old loader or purchase/lease a new loader was the question.

Doornink told the council that the city’s current loader is in need of several repairs and that he had prepared options for the lease and/or purchase of a new loader.

The council has been pondering that very issue the past few months.

The current loader has a leaking radiator, needs tires (three continually go flat), has a center pin issue, rusty radiator and oil cooler, a squealing serpentine belt, aging batteries, and a steering issue.

Doornink told the council that they could put several thousands of dollars into the old loader but that would not increase its trade-in value of about $25,000 to $30,000.

After several minutes of discuss, Mayor Larson and the council agreed that Doornink should proceed with needed repairs on the old loader so it could make it through this next winter while they try to budget funds for a replacement in 2015.

Library Proclamation

Paula Brandt, Glenwood City resident and member of the newly formed Friends of the Glenwood City Library, Inc., was present to ask the council to support and sign a proclamation declaring October 19-25, 2014 as National Friends of Libraries Week.

Brandt said the goal of the local group is to provide additional support to the library. The GC Friends group as an Incorporation will be able to access resources for the library that were previously unattainable.

The council voted unanimously to sign the proclamation in support of National Friends of Libraries Week.

In other council action:

• Approved operator licenses for: Les D. Warren, Michele L. Hanson, Kristin M. Hurtgen, Margery E. Jordheim, and Carey J. Kuehl.

• Approved 30-day burning permits for John Best (5-1 vote with DeGross dissenting) and Nancy Graese (4-2 vote with DeGross and Peterson dissenting).

• Tabled action on a new combination Class “B” retail license application for Jeffrey Allen Kuehl after city clerk-treasurer Shari Rosenow informed the council that no license was currently available.

• Approved the purchase of new voting equipment for $6,900.

• Took no action on updates to the personnel policy, drug and alcohol policy, and the summer rec updates.

• Went into closed session to consider the financial, medical, social or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons. Mayor Larson reported that no action was taken after reconvening into open session.