Among the various items discussed at Tuesday's Cherokee City Council meeting was the time allotted to Cherokee resident Merle Mesenbrink, who
once again addressed the Council to ask them to consider some type of cost-share in eliminating cross connections in the Ament Addition. Last fall, the Council approved a resolution to establish process and a timeline for disconnection of storm water and ground water from sanitary sewer lines in the Ament Addition in northeast Cherokee.
At that time, approximately 20 Ament property owners - largely the western half of the addition - who have drain tile systems or sump pumps connected to the City's sanitary sewer system now have options and a deadline to disconnect from the system. About 10 other affected Ament homeowners have already made the disconnections.
Basically, when the homes were built in the Ament Addition back in the 1960s-70s, the City at the time either allowed the connections, or was unaware of them through a faulty inspection process, and the contractor allegedly knowingly and wrongly made the connections in violation of the City Code. The problem has been exacerbated through the years by sellers of property and/or realtors either being unaware of the connections, or failing to disclose that information at point of sale.
At Tuesday's meeting, Mesenbrink stated that 35-45 years ago the City allowed these connections and the current homeowners were unaware of a problem. Homeowners weren't notified there was a problem, but are now being asked to correct the situation at an average cost of $4,000 each.
Mesenbrink also questioned how the Department of Transportation could change the flow of the water coming off of the highway. City Administrator Don Eikmeier responded that the City's cost of the project was $250,000 to install a storm sewer system in the addition. Eikmeier indicated that public meetings were held for homeowners in 2007 prior to beginning the project.
At their July 13 meeting, the council will consider establishing a Utility Assessment District so that the homeowners' costs to disconnect could be spread over a ten year period. Morrow indicated that he felt that the storm sewer should have been installed from the start, and that it should be the City's obligation to make this a City project. Eikmeier stated that the challenge would be how to address those who have already complied. He also said the council needs to consider the 'big picture.'
For the City to pay a portion of the costs, it comes out of taxes or fees from other citizens who don't benefit from the improvements. Jim Agnitsch, Cherokee Street Superintendent, said the Ament Addition was the biggest area of concentration of overflow problems.
There are no overflow problems in the other additions within the city. Eikmeier also indicated that he and the Mayor Mark Murphy are still working with the D.O.T. regarding the water issue. Mesenbrink then suggested that homeowners who have already made the disconnection be allowed to deduct a certain amount from the taxes over 10 years. The Council noted his suggestion.
In other business , Council member Linda Burkhart reported that the Sanford Museum staff has discussed the Spring Lake Park bird building and they are looking at ideas to make the area more visitor friendly and exhibit-like by using signs, etc. Burkhart has discussed the ideas with Park Superintendent Duane Mummert. There were no objections from the council.
A motion wasmade by Stieneke and seconded by Burkhart to approve the second presentation of an ordinance amending Section 165.05 Districts Established to include the Central Business District as a primary use district.
The Council considered an ordinance to regulate overnight parking on certain streets in the Central Business District of downtown Cherokee. Administrator Eikmeier indicated that downtown residential occupancy is greater than it has ever been, making it challenging for the street sweeper to keep the downtown area clean. The area being considered for odd/even parking between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Main St. from First Street to Sixth Street and Fourth Street from Cedar Street to Elm Street and Second Street from Cedar Street to Elm Street.
Parking would be allowed on one side of the street on odd numbered days and on the other side of the street on even numbered days. Although a total parking ban in these areas was also considered, it was felt that it would be too much of a hardship on the tenants. Council member Greg Stieneke suggested passing out a notice to the affected businesses and residents before the ordinance is implemented. A motion by Council member Jim Peck, seconded by Stieneke, approved the first presentation of an ordinance regulating overnight parking in the Central Business District.
The Council then reviewed proposed revisions to the junk vehicle ordinance. Because of current wording a challenge of a nuisance abatement may not hold up. Revisions would clear up the language as well as remove some unnecessary language. City Attorney Wally Miller Jr. will review the changes prior to the next meeting. A motion by Peck, seconded by Burkhart, approved the first presentation of an ordinance amending junk vehicle regulations.
Dave Ellis, Cherokee Recreation Director, requested $5,000 be carried over from the current Recreation budget to help pay for the replacement of backstops at the Baum ball fields. The Softball Association would be required to raise funds to help pay for this project. A motion by Stieneke, seconded by Morrow, adopted Resolution No. 10-15, encumbering $5,000 for the project.
The Council renewed a couple of liquor licenses, one class "C" for the VFW Club and a class "B" for the Gasthaus Bar & Grill. Two beer permits were also renewed, one class "C" for Sparky's One Stop and one class "B" for the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce's Little Sioux Festival.
Mark Napier, Cherokee Water Superintendent, was present to review bids for roof and door replacements at the Industrial well houses, control building and reservoir. A motion by Stieneke, seconded by Burkhart, accepted the Benson Construction bid of $17,770.59 for sloped roofs with steel for the well houses and control building, unless steel prices have increased more than 10%. On a motion by Burkhart, seconded by Stieneke, the council accepted the Nohava bid of $19,181 for a flat roof with membrane for the reservoir. A motion by Morrow, seconded by Peck, accepted the Benson Construction bid of $4,649.99 for four doors and one door jam.
Jim Agnitsch, Cherokee Street Superintendent, explained that he had budgeted $6,000 to convert a dump truck to a water tanker. However, he has since decided to use a 1,750-gallon tank, with pump, which can be placed into any of the Street Department's four dump trucks as needed. This will save about $3,000.
Mark Napier gave an overview of projects his department will be working on: valve exercising, cleaning Tyson and City storage tanks, filter cleaning project at City plant, pull and televise well #8 and high service pump and general maintenance of high service pump at City plant. He said that recent DNR rules might prohibit discharging water from pump tests into rivers and lakes. This may cause problems especially with well #8 as it is next to Spring Lake. He informed the Council that he would continue to work with the DNR on this issue.