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City Council hears drainage, other issues

By Staff | Feb 7, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT A stretch of First Street Northwest running east in Rugby has sparked flooding concerns for area residents.

The Rugby City Council heard from a local resident about flooding concerns in the area near First Street Southwest at their regular monthly meeting Monday evening.

David Engeland, who lives near First Street Southwest in north Rugby, told the council engineering studies of the area had been done over the past two decades, but work had never begun to address flooding problems.

“It’s been a project that’s been overlooked for a long, long time,” Engeland said.

“We talked about it (with city and county officials),” Engeland said. “We have no storm drains at all down there. I’ve been a resident of the city of Rugby all my life. When you take and look at (the fact that) we pay three dollar storm drain (charges on city of Rugby bills), we haven’t had a storm drain.”

Engeland added, “Everybody knows we have to have infrastructure. We’re not afraid to pay for when we’re going to have projects done, but we’re getting nothing done down there. We’re just getting flooded and flooded.”

“Last year at the fair, they had to call the fair off (on Saturday), because, you wouldn’t have believed it. My whole yard was flooded, and we had an inch and some of rain,” Engeland said. “It was a flood.”

Mayor Susan Steinke told Engeland she had researched the issue.

“I did go back to Interstate (Engineering) and kind of investigated. Interstate did supply some engineering maps, but and the city chose not to go with the engineering company’s recommendations,” she said. “That’s where it kind of stagnated.”

Engeland said, “When Wold Engineering was the engineer on First Street, 80 percent of (a budget estimate by the firm) was supposed to be for the storm drain. The city wouldn’t go along with that because they were fighting about the 20 percent that the people were supposed to pay.”

He added, “I was county commissioner at that time, and they even went to the (Rugby grain) elevator at the time, and the elevator was going to pay for that storm drain. Then, a year later, the city council approved a tax break for them and they wouldn’t put the storm drain in. And the elevator was going to help pay for that. And 80 percent of that was going to be paid for with federal money.”

Engeland continued, “The city only had to pay 10 percent, the county went and paid the other 10 percent. Nothing has been done since then. And now the elevator’s built and built, and we have a problem. A big problem.”

Steinke recommended the Rugby Public Works committee contact Wold Engineering “to see if they can give us any engineering plans that they had at the time, and maybe even some minutes from (Pierce County Auditor) Karin Fursather to see what transpired.”

Steinke also recommended talking with the Pierce County Water Board and the residents of the township affected by drainage systems in the area.

Engeland mentioned a holding pond on land owned by Pierce County resident Gary Laughridge, and possible placement of drainage ditches suggested by engineers in the past.

“Will you look into it?” Engeland asked the council.

“Absolutely,” Steinke answered.

The council also heard from Alan Meckle of Pierce County’s community service program.

“As of January 1st, I have 43 open cases,” Meckle said. “Ten of these have been new since Jan. 1 of this year with 441 hours ordered. Six of these cases are in Pierce County and four are in the city of Rugby.”

“I have 13 cases that have completed since the 1st of January for a total of 610 hours. Last year, there were 141 clients that completed 4,765.5 hours of community service in Pierce, McHenry and Bottineau Counties,” Meckle added. “In 2018, there were 5,806.5 hours completed in the same area, plus I had Rolette County at that time. I have submitted a form to you that shows where all those hours were completed at in 2019 if you have any questions regarding those worksites. I do not have any juvenile cases at this time.”

“The funding for the program continues to come from the state and it’s based on the population of the area served,” Meckle noted. “Our funding for the program comes from the three counties (based on the population of those counties) and the cities that are within those counties and the fees that are charged to the clients doing community service.”

“Judge (Michael) Hurly continues to be a strong advocate of the community service program and I do have an advisory board meeting coming up on Feb. 26 at 10 a.m., Meckle said.

The council also heard reports from Rugby Job Development Authority Executive Director Liz Heisey.

Heisey described grant programs available and incentives offered by the North Dakota Main Street Initiative.

Heisey said the initiative offered more incentives for communities designated as “Main Street Champions.” As she outlined the things Main Street Champion communities do, she noted, “Rugby’s already doing a lot of these.”

The council voted unanimously to proclaim Rugby a “Main Street ND Community.”

The council also approved JDA financials.

In other business, the council approved a first reading of Ordinances 422 and 423.

City Ordinance 422 calls for a 2 percent lodging tax to fund promotions for visitors to Rugby while Ordinance 423 levies a 1 percent tax on restaurants and lodging businesses to fund tourism infrastructure.

The council also approved planning and zoning commission minutes for meetings on Oct. 14 and 23, 2019, with a correction to the Oct. 14 minutes.

City Attorney Bill Hartl said, “The only thing I would point out and I pointed this out in the planning and zoning commission minutes, is that in the minutes from October 14, 2019, on the second page, on the line there that says that in my opinion, the Chalmers Addition should have had a drainage pond.”

“I don’t recall exactly what my comment was, but we struck that,” Hartl added. “I don’t recall ever being in favor of a drainage pond on the Chalmers Addition. I probably expressed some concern or thoughts about the drainage of the Chalmers, but I don’t want to be on record as saying it should have a pond located on the premises, for that portion.”

Other planning and zoning matters approved at the Monday meeting included a plat for 3, 7 and Block 1 of Sveum Subdivision lying in Section 1-156-71, and an order to close a section of Third Avenue Southwest near Ely Elementary School. The council set aside March 16 for a hearing and special meeting on the closure.

The council also approved a re-plat of 3, 7 and Block 1 of the Sveum Subdivision.

In other business, recreation committee chair Joel Berg updated the council on plans to hire a staffer and get pricing information on a new roof for the Rugby pool.

Finance chair Gary Kraft reported on irrigation rates for Rugby’s golf course and water use. Kraft also said the committee renewed advertising contracts with local media.

Public works chair Dave Bednarz reported on estimates for generator parts and labor for the Rugby Armory and discussions with Circle Sanitation on the handling of grass clippings for the city.

The next regular Rugby City Council meeting will take place March 2.

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