Options for flooding debated

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing writer

The Otsego City Council heard from the city engineer about ways to minimize flooding risks from Otsego Creek at their regular meeting on April 8.

They also discussed the liability of the builder who constructed the poorly performing roofs on buildings at the West Water Treatment Facility.

Otsego Creek flooding issue

A resident of Mason Avenue, whose property runs adjacent to Otsego Creek, had expressed concerns to the council and city staff that the culverts near his property, designed to channel overflow water, were frozen nearly shut. He had experienced flooding in his yard in the past and wanted to avoid the issue this spring.

City Engineer Ron Wagner was directed by the council to look at the culverts along the creek and assess the situation. He observed that there was only a 1 to 2 inch opening in the culverts under Mason Avenue.

Shortly after his observations, due to rain and melting snow the weekend of March 30, the creek overflowed and briefly flooded portions of 87th and 90th streets. That Monday, city crews dislodged ice chunks in some culverts to help prevent overflow.

Wagner recommended a few preventative measures for next year. He suggested putting sandbags or innertubes in the fall in culverts prone to overflow when they’re frozen over.

“Then we take them out just before the spring thaw and those culverts are wide open,” he explained.

Council members expressed approval of the idea and encouraged Wagner to present it to them next fall.

West water treatment facility re-roofing

Wagner showed the council photos of the roofing work going on at the facility, which was built in 2004.

He showed them how badly warped the plywood was below the shingles and how the sheets of plywood were installed right up next to each other when there was writing on them that clearly said to install them with space in-between to allow for humidity. He described how the nails to install the roof had been set too far apart and how many of the nails had been driven almost all of the way through the plywood.

“The work on the roof, I’m sure they had a sub do that. It’s not reflective of the work they do. Still, they’re responsible to make sure it’s done right,” Wagner told the council.

The problems are most severe on two of the buildings, but are evident on all four. The issues weren’t discovered until some of the buildings suffered hail damage and were going to be repaired. The total repairs to the roof are estimated at $80,000.

City Attorney Andrew MacArthur told the council that the first step was to send a letter to Rice Lake Construction, the company that built the facility, to see if the matter could be resolved amicably. If a satisfactory agreement isn’t reached, the city has legal options it can pursue.

In other matters, City Administrator Lori Johnson told the council that a developer is considering a site in Otsego to build a 400,000 square-foot commercial building. The council is considering tax abatement incentives for the developer.

“We’re one of three sites that are sort of finalists for this project. This one would be nice to attract,” Johnson said.

Currently, the largest commercial building in the city is Target at nearly 300,000 square feet.