Waiting on FEMAAt its meeting Tuesday, the City Council’s Public Works Committee refused to require written reports from staff on the state of the city’s sewer systems and lift stations.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council’s Public Works Committee refused to require written reports from staff on the state of the city’s sewer systems and lift stations.
Mayor Clarice Liechty has insisted in previous meetings that City Engineer Reed Schwartzkopf and City Administrator Jeff Fuchs write up detailed reports regarding the infrastructure challenged by high water in the past months. However, her mo-tion requiring the reports died for lack of a second.
“I believe the City Council has a responsibility to get written reports from the city administrator and city engineer,” Liechty said earlier. “I want a written report on what the situation is today.”
Councilman Ken Schulz said the information was in Fuchs’ written monthly reports. Fuchs was not at the meeting. He is on vacation. Schulz directed the mayor to look at various pages on the latest monthly report.
“It tells you where the staff is on these areas,” Schulz said. “It covers all the issues the staff can deal with. They’re still dealing with flood issues.”
Schulz said the council can do its part by starting work on a strategic plan for the city. He’s been advocating development of a strategic plan for more than a year, and said repairing or replacing city infrastructure should be part of it.
“The community is waiting to see some long-range planning,” he said.
Councilman Pat Nygaard asked Schwartzkopf if FEMA had determined the cost share on damages to the sewer systems. FEMA will pick up at least a portion of the costs in disaster coverage.
“We still don’t have an inspector assigned to us,” Schwartzkopf said. “So we don’t have an accurate accounting on what they will or will not allow. At this point there is no way to assess damages and cost of repair work.”
The mayor said the City Council needed to understand the extent of the damages and repair costs. Schwartzkopf replied that to do a comprehensive plan the engineering department would need four or five more staff members. Liechty questioned Schwartzkopf regarding specifics on problems and potential costs of repair to the sewer systems.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Schwartzkopf said.
“Nobody knows the answers at this point,” Schulz said.
“In due time the costs and needs will come before us,” Nygaard said. “We need to trust our staff.”
Councilwoman Kelani Parisien said that without the FEMA inspection and a comprehensive evaluation of the problem areas, the City Council couldn’t move forward.
“This is a huge project. We need to get the priorities straight,” Parisien said.
The mayor also wanted to know what the city’s reimbursement plan for property owners’ damages and flooding costs will be.
“What do you want to do?” Schwartzkopf said, adding it’s up to City Council to decide what the city will cover.
At this point, the council has agreed to repair damages to yards due to diking using a landscaping company to return the yards closer to their former state.
The council decided to treat written claims of other kinds of damage on an individual basis.
In other business, Jessica Thomasson, director of Lutheran Social Services-Housing of North Dakota, presented a proposal on the redevelopment of the current Jamestown Hospital building. She asked for a letter of support for the project to develop the space into senior living and community use. The City Council’s Building, Planning and Zoning Committee unanimously approved the letter.
Thomasson said the proposed use of the building includes potentially 27 units of senior housing and 26 units of some type of assisted living units. However, a final decision won’t be made on plans until a market study has been done to determine the need.
“Our goal is senior living and community use, and we’re pretty open to a mix of uses to meet community needs,” she said.
LSS-Housing and Roer’s Development won’t begin any renovation until the hospital is in its new facility.
Schulz reported on a city-wide cleanup this year. He recommends Sept. 21-26 as cleanup week with the baler open extended hours for residents to haul their cleanup material out to the inert landfill. This plan would be in lieu of city pick up.
The baler will be open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday that week. It will also be open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ll be weighing everybody to give us a record of the volume,” said Bill Snyder, city sanitation foreman.
The recommendation will go to the City Council for approval.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org