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Water-logged business owner seeks solutions to mess

Abigal’s Antiques has suffered seepage and flooding problems since road and sewer work two years ago. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

By Sarah Smith

A timid business owner approached the Akeley City Council Wednesday about help for a water problem that has cost her $10,000 since major construction two years ago.

“I’m a peaceful person,” said Ardell McAlpine, owner of Abigail’s Antiques & Gifts on Highway 34. “I want to settle it.”

Ever since major road and sewer work two summers ago, McAlpine may have bailed millions of gallons of water out of the basement of her store.

She’s lost track. At one point during a deluge, she told the council she was vacuuming 100 gallons of water a day.

Councilman Dan Riggs, who seemed equally frustrated at the situation, didn’t have much in the way of answers.

McAlpine was asking for a permit to drain her water into the city sewer just so she could close up shop for the winter and return to the Twin Cities.

Right now she doesn’t dare. Last May when she returned from the winter, her basement was full of water.

No one is quite sure why the water’s been redirected after the construction. She had some damp floors before but nothing like the past two summers.

“We can’t give you permission to direct it into the sanitary sewer,” Riggs said. He speculated she might have a spring underneath her store.

She was also asking to excavate a square foot of concrete near the curb to see if she could pinpoint the source of the leak.

“It has been a really difficult year,” she said. “I really didn’t want to come here.”

She said between her electrical bills for fans and drain tiles, “I’ll have $10,000 into it.”

Although she was not asking the city to reimburse her, she said, “It isn’t fair to me to pay those bills year after year.”

But a solution or a cause just wasn’t in the cards.

Riggs suggested contacting a company that could do some ground piercing work and directional boring in hopes of diverting the flow.

McAlpine and her husband left the meeting looking bewildered.

In other business, the council:

n Welcomed new member Bobbie Emery. She replaces Troy Hegg, who moved out of the city limits this fall. The city also agreed to plow the alley behind her home. The maintenance supervisor indicated he would have plowed it all along but had never been asked.

Emery will serve until next year’s election.

n Took no action on some agenda items due to Mayor Jerry Tatro’s absence, including a general business license ordinance. The council did set a Dec. 3 meeting to hear Parks & Rec issues. The council also set up a Budget & Policy meeting for 6 p.m. on Dec. 10. A public hearing on the city’s housing ordinance will precede that at 5:30 p.m.

n Reviewed a bid to repair the city hall roof leaks. Interim council chair Trygve Karl said the city had hoped for three competitive bids but only got a single one from Troy Hegg of G&H Custom Construction for $1,125, which was acceptable to the council.

n Learned the municipal liquor store made a $4,332 profit in October and has netted $36,933 for the year. Two freezers costing $7,000 will be purchased from those profits.

n Heard a proposal to revive the Akeley Ice Races on Tenth Crow Wing Lake. But the council instructed backers Tony Sauer and Reid Watson to speak with the DNR, which govern the lake and its access point from Akeley.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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