By Tara Mathews
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake City Council approved a televising project for about 60 private sanitary sewer service lines on the east side of town at its meeting March 17.
“We are just looking for sources of the inflow and infiltration problem Howard Lake is facing,” Sheila Krohse of Bolton & Menk noted.
Homes on both sides of 5th Avenue south of 9th Street, both sides of 4th Avenue, the east side 6th Avenue south of 9th Street, and some of the streets between 6th and 5th Avenue will be receiving a letter from city staff with details and a timeline for the project.
“The goal of the pilot project would be to get an understanding of what kind of problems exist before the council would decide on a possible enforcement program,” City Administrator Jennifer Nash stated.
The area was chosen to be the pilot project because the lift station attached to those homes has a higher flow than others and has a hard time keeping up with water levels.
“This area is certainly not the only area where there are issues, but it’s a place to start,” Nash commented.
The city plans to contract with a licensed plumber, and pay for the initial 60 homes to be televised at a cost of $75 to $150 per home, depending on the contractor they choose.
Jeremy Peterson, owner of Drain Pros in Howard Lake, offered to complete the televising work for the city for a discounted price.
“It would take about 14 days,” he commented.
“I think there’s value in having someone local complete the work,” Mayor Pete Zimmerman noted.
Residents would then be given a time limit to fix any issues found on their properties, and informed of any disciplinary actions that will be taken for not complying.
“I would recommend coming up with some way to help homeowners with the cost of repairs that are needed on their lines, such as a payment plan,” Krohse said.
Maple Lake offered its residents a payment plan program that worked out well for both the city and its residents, she added.
“It might be a good idea to have an informative open house for residents to get answers to questions they might have,” Krohse commented.
Nash and council members agreed that an open house would probably be the best way to inform residents.
“At the open house, there should be a video of good and bad sewer service lines for residents to view,” Krohse stated.
Nash and Krohse will plan a date for the open house, and a timeline for the project before the next city council meeting, they said.
Odds and ends
In other business the council:
• conducted a public hearing in regards to an alley easement.
An alley that is located under the current middle school was not vacated before the middle school was built.
Council approved the vacation.
• heard the municipal liquor store report from manager Myra Laway. For the month of February the liquor store had $42,746 in revenue and $46,510 in expenses, which resulted in a net loss of $3,763.
• approved a new single-sort recycling program for Howard Lake residents. Cost will remain the same, and residents can continue to use the blue or red bins.
• approved an ordinance regarding assessment of unpaid charges.
The ordinance was a change to a current ordinance that stated city staff could only certify unpaid charges with the county once per year.
The new language allows city staff to submit unpaid charges to the county at any time.
“We are not planning to assess on a regular basis,” Zimmerman stated.
“We will only assess as necessary,” Nash said. “But this will give us the ability to assess on any specific property as needed.”
• confirmed that citywide spring cleanup day will be Saturday, May 2 this year.
• heard a Wright County Area Transportation (WCAT) update from council member Al Munson.
Trailblazer Transit has given 183,000 rides since WCAT was formed in fall 2013, he said.
Trailblazer is in need of drivers and will be able to increase the amount of buses when their driver pool increases.