Herald Journal - Enterprise Dispatch - Delano Herald Journal
Water leak prompts Dassel to take action in mobile court
Feb. 22, 2010

By Lynda Jensen

DASSEL, MN – The Dassel City Council will move forward to solve a major water leak in private water lines at the Westview Terrace mobile home, according to city council action Tuesday.

The leak amounts to 1,000 gallons per day.

The council gave a 10-day time frame to mobile home park manager Donald Larson to hear back from the park property owner, Luann Denman of Burnsville, about what to do with the leak. It is the responsibility of the owner to fix the leak on her private property.

During the course of the meeting – which attracted about one dozen mobile home park tenants – it was made clear that the owner of the park would not pay for the fix, since she sent a letter to the city saying as such, and this was referenced a number of times during the meeting by the park manager and others.

Fixing the leak involves moving the aging small trailer owned by Connie Hurley, who is a familiar face around town as an employee at Gary’s Family Foods. It is uncertain if the trailer would survive the move.

Due to the way that the utility valves and hookups are configured, most or all of water service to the mobile home park will need to be shut down to address the problem, it was noted.

The water shut off could be as brief as four hours, or last for several days if there are problems with fixing the leak.

Administrator Myles McGrath observed that the timing was poor, due to the weather. If it was summer, the city could set up a temporary water supply above ground, he noted.

Larson expressed concern about how long it might take.

“I understand what you’re going through,” Scanlon said. “It’s unfortunate that the owner of the park is not doing what she should do.”

Scanlon told the residents that part of the lot fee they pay is supposed to be used for fixing the leak. “She should be taking and using this money for things like this,” he said.

“The owner is taking your money to pay for these things. You have a legitimate grievance,” Scanlon said.

According to comments from McGrath and Scanlon, it appears likely the city will be forced to pursue this matter in court to recoup the costs.

Other tenants asked how much the leak would cost, and wondered what their options were.

“We will keep you apprised of the situation,” Mayor Mike Scanlon told the crowd, saying that the city would be sure to notify all of what is going on.

In the past, Denman has attracted attention for other issues:

June 2008. Meeker County Auditor Barb Loch called a trailer site in the Dassel mobile home park a “legal nightmare.”

The renter made prompt payments and kept his lot clean, Loch told the Meeker County Board of Commissioners.

The site had problems with electricity, since its service came from rotted posts and bent wires – what Xcel Energy called an imminent danger to the neighborhood, she said.

The two lots on the site were forfeited in 2007 to the state because Denman did not pay $42,000 in special assessments, mostly for water and sanitary sewer.

Meeker County Attorney Stephanie Beckman said the owner of the park, who inherited it, is obligated to keep the entire park in compliance.

March 2008. The Dassel City Council authorized law enforcement officials to pull out two abandoned trailers in the mobile home park for health and safety reasons.

The two trailers were filled with cats and debris, reeked from cat urine, and had no utilities. They have been abandoned for at least six months, according to Meeker County Deputy Gordy Prochaska.

At the time, the council directed Prochaska to serve court papers to the mobile home court owner, Luann Denman, and the owners of the two trailers, No. 6 and No. 23.

The park condition is much improved, McGrath commented Thursday, with Prochaska receiving a fair amount of credit for this. “Though efforts of residents, the court has improved a great deal,” he added. Unfortunately, the owner is not interested in its upkeep, he said.

Denman inherited the park from her mother, Olive Nelson.

Old tower to come down week of March 1

The old tower is expected to come down the week of March 1, McGrath said. The contractor will be using a crane in tight quarters to accomplish this, he added. “There may be some nervous people in this building (city hall, which is located adjacent to it),” he joked.

LGA cuts pending

The city is bracing for another round of cuts in local government aid (LGA), with McGrath estimating the loss this time at about $55,000 (it has since been learned that the actual number is closer to $71,600).

“They are looking at cities with high cash reserves,” Scanlon said.

“These funds are significant, but spoken for,” McGrath quickly added, saying that the reserves are allocated already.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• heard from Scanlon, who said that the DC Baseball Association is asking for city approval to move forward with an application to host the state tournament in 2015.

Council Member Bob Lalone wanted to know what upgrades would be required for this. “New grass?” he asked. Scanlon indicated he would give them the go-ahead.

• heard from former council member Wayne Medcraft, who asked for more lighting along Third and Fourth streets, asking as a member-at-large of the Dassel Chamber of Commerce. This would lead customers downtown, he said.

The downtown is well-lit, but needs to be connected to Highway 12 with better lighting, similar to Cokato.

“People will not shop in dimly lit retail areas,” Medcraft said. “Adding additional lighting will increase sales, and improve safety for pedestrians.

The cost to operate each lamp is $20 per month, he said.

McGrath noted that five additional poles were added during the most recent downtown project.

This subject can be addressed during the March work session, scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, March 1.

• tabled a request from public works for a sewer cleaning suction trailer (a wet/dry vac) for $58,000.

A different vacuum that is less versatile is being looked at as well, which is five years older, with many more hours on it, for $48,000.

Currently, the city is spending $1,700 per year for a lift station cleanup, plus another $1,400 for a one-time clean out, Scepaniak said.

The lift stations should actually be cleaned monthly instead of what is done now, he added. There are five lift stations and numerous water catch basins.

Scanlon asked Scepaniak if the public works department would be able to find time to do this more frequently. Scepaniak said yes.

Nevertheless, in light of potential cuts in local government aid, the council decided against spending the money at the moment.

Scanlon noted once again that the council decided to suspend capital purchases.

• discussed the verbiage for a vehicle use policy for public works. The official policy will be adopted at a later date.

Lalone wanted to add more detail to the policy, if it applied to all employees. It was decided to tag it for public works, since it has the only vehicles that would pertain (the city doesn’t own other vehicles).

It was noted that the council is allowing ambassadors to use a city truck for pulling its float during parades in colder months.

• noted that a work session is scheduled 6 p.m. Monday, March 1, before the regular council meeting at 7 p.m.

• heard from Scanlon that the Meeker County public transit will be hosting an open house in Litchfield to feature a completed new garage facility from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.


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