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Park Rapids engineers directed to draw up plans to fix sewer pipes

Avoiding sewage back-ups for a few Park Rapids homeowners by installing back-flow valves may not be the best option.

The Front Avenue residents could install them with the understanding that they're not 100 percent effective, city engineer Gary Nansen said at the Park Rapids City Council meeting Tuesday.

After the homeowners experienced the problem several times and relayed their concerns to the council last month, Public Works Director Scott Burlingame suggested installing back-flow valves as a temporary solution and the city requested bids for the job.

But after hearing Nansen's thoughts that back-flow valves are not guaranteed to prevent more flooding in the future, fixing Front Avenue lines with the proposed Sixth and Eighth Streets reconstruction project could be more economical.

The council directed city engineers to come up with a preliminary plan for the proposed water and sewer capital improvement project that would start next spring.

Mayor Nancy Carroll asked if the $1.7 million sewer project could be coordinated with Main Avenue construction in 2010.

Nansen said it's definitely a possibility and also more cost effective in terms of the bidding process.

But homeowner Arvayda Carter, who attended the meeting Tuesday, was concerned about waiting until next spring for the sewage problems to get fixed on Front Avenue.

"So how many more houses will be flooded?" she asked.

It's a timing issue, councilman Dave Konshok said. This year's construction season is pretty much over.

At this point, all the possible cleaning and maintenance to fix the problem for property owners have been taken care of.

"There is nothing else we can do," Burlingame said.

Three property owners on Front Avenue who wanted to install back-flow preventers were presented with quotes from two contractors Tuesday.

If the property owners decided to go with back-flow preventers right away, each would be responsible for paying about $700. The city's total share would be about $2,100.

The issue was tabled until next month to give the property owners more time to think and make a decision.

In other action, the council:

-Heard Nansen announce that 30 percent of the Main Avenue revitalization plan is complete and was mostly data collecting.

He added that 60 percent of the design review should be done by November.

"It would really start to refine some of the details of the project and get ready for complete and final design documents," Nansen said.

-Approved Henrietta Township's request to waive an interest fee of $158.95. The township wasn't able to make the fire contract payment on time. It was sent to the city four days late.

-Approved a loan application for Amish Oak to receive $10,750 for roof repair and painting under the Small Cities Development Program.

-Approved continuation of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

The city currently participates in the program that pays for a peace officer's salaries.

By continuing with the program, the four-year grant will pay for three years of salaries and the city will be responsible for paying the fourth year's salaries in addition to other expenses.

The grant totals $179,326 and continuation with the program eliminates the city's option to cut law enforcement positions in the future.

Accepting the grant is a good idea, councilman Pat Mikesh said. As discussed earlier this year, police and emergency personnel would not be the first to cut due to budgeting problems.

-Approved expenditures for curb stop repairs on a property located on Franklin Avenue North. The costs totaling $3,000 will be certified as a special assessment on the property.

-Extended the Osage Township fire contract for six more months instead of the requested three months. The city staff recommended six months to cover an entire year.

-Set the truth in taxation public hearing for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8.