Sewer line project raises questions

By Carol Walker

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They waited for 10 minutes on Monday night, but with only councilwoman Kathy Skorzewski and councilman Jim Peterson in attendance by that time, a quorum could not be established at the city council meeting. Jason Gillaspie was out of town and John Johnson was not in attendance.

Because of that, the council could not move ahead with the only action item on the agenda, the funding agreement extension between the South Dakota Department of Transportation and Hill City for the Main St. Streetscape project. That will have to wait until the next meeting in June.

However, that did not stop the council members and public from hearing reports and discussing other projects. A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the replacement of a sewer line across from Krull’s Market, which was cut through by a cable company a few years ago. During the repair process, paid for by the cable company, it was discovered it was only a four-inch pipe, which is not up to code. Dennis Schrier, public works director, requested funding for replacement of the pipe.

“This project has been on the books for a couple years. Last year we started the design work but didn’t finish the project. The design was sent to the state and it needs to be put out to bids. I think we budgeted about $88,000 for the project….If you give the go-ahead at the next meeting, we can let it out for bids,” said Brett McMacken, city administrator.

Since this item was from a couple years ago, the money could not be carried over to a new budget year, so funding would have to come from the emergency fund. McMacken did say it could be taken out of the sewer fund, but that money is typically for brand new projects, not repair work.

Vic Alexander asked what the urgency of the project is, to which McMacken answered that this is something the city has talked about for three years. Alexander questioned why a larger pipe is needed if it is only going to serve seven or eight households. Peterson agreed that it is a big expenditure in light of the fact that people on Deegan Dr. are asking why their street is not paved. Earlier in the meeting, Mayor Julie Wickware-Klein read a letter from Connie Sundby on Deegan Dr., in which a request was made for pavement of the street in front of their house.

Peterson asked McMacken to do more research on the project and find out if a variance was issued for the sewer line when it was installed and how many houses are actually connected into the main.

McMacken also reported on the Business Improvement District (BID) Board meeting, which was reported on in the Prevailer in the previous issue. The discussion at that meeting involved removing the racquetball courts, resurfacing the tennis courts and taking out the fence and the existing bathroom. The tennis court will become a multi-purpose area for parking, playing basketball and other Boys and Girls Club use, and the racquetball court area will used for parking. An area for bike riding will be created just south of the Club where there is now parking. In addition, the alley will be resurfaced. Kale McNaboe, city engineer and McMacken looked at the alley recently.

“Kale said we may be able to just allow for surface drainage, and we may not need to install storm drains. He is going to shoot a few elevations and get back to me,” said McMacken.

In light of the bathroom removal and replacement with bathrooms in the senior center addition, Janet Wetovick-Bily, chamber director, said they have had bus tours already come through and more are on their way.

“The first question asked when they get off the bus is, ‘Where are the public restrooms?’” said Wetovick-Bily.

She went on to report that numbers in the Visitor Information Center are increasing for June with an average of 57 tourists per day. She also was pleased that through the Lawrence & Schiller advertising agency, they are seeing an increasing number of booking referrals, meaning people are clicking on links to book reservations at lodging establishments in the Hill City area.

Sarah O’Brien vented to the council regarding the construction of their new garage damaged beyond repair when a truck and trailer went through it. The builder was told he did not need a permit because it was going on the same slab on which the previous garage was built.

“The walls were up, the rafters were ready to go up and then we were told we can’t build without a permit. The project was to be put on hold a week while we submitted paperwork to Planning and Zoning. But, two days later, we had a building permit,” she said.

McMacken said the permit was issued quickly because the chairman of P&Z got agreement from members to allow for the building ahead of the meeting due to the misunderstanding regarding the permit.

Then the O’Briens ran into snags with the carport they wanted to replace, being told a five-ft. setback would be allowed by P&Z and discovering  they needed 25 ft. setback. That project is now on hold also. She and her husband wanted the council to know of their frustrating journey with the project, and McMacken said he would meet with her to determine what could be done regarding the carport.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

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