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Council focuses on rec complex issues

By Sue Sitter - | Dec 12, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT A worker takes advantage of warmer winter weather to finish a project at the Rugby Recreation Complex.

The Rugby Recreation Complex took the spotlight at the regular monthly meeting for the Rugby City Council Monday, Dec. 7 at city hall.

Austin Harles of MBF Drain Tile Systems, LLC, attended the meeting by phone to describe drain tile work he placed underground at the baseball diamonds at the complex.

“The drain tile’s 100 percent in,” Harles said. “All of it’s in.” Harles said additional work had yet to be completed to even the field, replace soil and plant grass seed to replace sod that had been removed early in October. The sod was destroyed by a snap of cold weather and light snowfall during that time.

Council members expressed misgivings about not being able to inspect the work as it went in or review an agreement and plan for the tile placement before the project began.

Council member and recreation committee chair Joel Berg told the council the committee had approved the project on Sept. 16. Harles said he had submitted an estimate for the project, totaling $41,000, Sept. 5.

Harles told the council he needed time to move all the materials and equipment needed for the project to Rugby. “Our trencher wasn’t rented until the fifth of October,” Harles said. Other delays cropped up when a supplier failed to deliver equipment on time to Harles.

Harles added his work was further delayed after the sod on the complex grounds was pulled up and trenching was done.

“We would have come back (to replace the sod) if it didn’t blizzard on us that first week we were out working and trenching,” Harles told the council. “That’s why my invoice for the restoration was so low and now I’m eating that cost regardless. I’m not making a change order for that because I agreed to that and I’m trying to adhere to my word. I’m doing the extra landscaping and seeding and whatnot to get these fields back in shape.”

To make up for problems in the project, Harles said he agreed to borrow the city’s skid steer for some of his work and use the time he rented the equipment to offset the cost of his extra work.

Council members and recreation committee members noticed damage done to the skid steer and fencing at the recreation complex during the tile work.

“We have an estimate for $4,500 for fence repairs from Dakota Fence in Minot,” Mayor Sue Steinke told Harles. The city also received an estimate for $1,645 from Precision Autobody, Rugby, to repair damage to the skid steer.

“The first (damaged fence area) when it happened, I called I believe Dave. The first one that happened was the corner of the fence by field two. The trencher blade pulled into the fence. It pulled the fence down and then the top rail bent in on that one. I believe on the opposite side of that – so the north side of field one, northwest of field one, there’s another fence post. Either that or field two,” Harles explained. “I think it’s field one though, where we backed into it when we were back dragging.”

City records showed one payment for $2,500 had been made to Harles as of December 7. G Drain Tile Systems, who provided Harles with materials for the project, had received $7,300.

The recreation committee had voted in November to pay another $10,000 to Harles and pay the remainder in the spring.

After discussing damage done to the fence and skid steer, the council voted to pay $10,000 to Harles and discuss the offset costs on damage to the city property and the remaining amount due including an extra 3,841 feet of material installed, in January.

The council asked AE2S Engineer Jim Olson, who was present to give an infrastructure project update, to weigh in on the drain tile project.

Olson said Harles should have started with work on a smaller piece of ground and allowed the city to inspect the work and approve it. “We wouldn’t be sitting in this room today (if Harles had done that),” Olson said.

“Your estimate was an open-ended estimate. There’s no contract,” Olson added. “It not only gives you the latitude to add and delete and do what you want with it; it also leaves the city to do what they want as well.”

Council member Wayne Trottier agreed, contrasting the process involved in the project with a new school construction project he currently oversees.

“I think part of the responsibility rests with us,” Trottier said of the city council. “I think our engineer has alluded to that in so many ways.”

“We have to come up with a process and a system so this doesn’t happen again. There’s no checks and balances right now. There’s nothing,” Trottier added. “No oversight creates a lot of questions. We need more comprehensive agreements. We have to enter into formalized agreements with these people,” Trottier said of contractors working for the city.

“We’ve had the discussion with the committee, that even though this was way under (the amount required for a bidding process), we still need to have some policies and checks and balances in place for any of these kinds of projects,” Steinke said.

In other recreation-related business, the council agreed to discuss compensating Rugby Recreation Manager Jamie Wald with a salary of $1,000 per month for her part-time, non-benefitted position. Berg and Wald said she had served in the position for three years without any pay. The council decided to hold a special council meeting on a later date to discuss putting Wald’s salary in the budget.

The council also heard from Olson, who updated them on the progress of a funding application to the USDA to assist with an ongoing city water/sewer infrastructure project. The council voted to approve a suggestion to get an estimate for a project sending a video camera through a section of the city sewer system beginning in the northwestern portion of the city. Olson also updated the council on improvements to the Rugby Armory.

The council also voted to designate AE2S as the city’s engineer, a decision that would not impact taxpayers. Olson explained that the city would be free to retain the services of any firm they chose at any time. Steinke swore Olson in at the Dec. 7 city council meeting.

Public works committee members reported two trucks would be ready for pickup in Fargo. City Auditor Jennifer Stewart said a $5,000 deposit on the trucks had been paid. The council voted to approve the purchase.

Public safety committee members reported discussing parking issues near Ely Elementary School with Rugby Public Schools Superintendent Mike McNeff. “Dr. McNeff didn’t think there was a problem,” Trottier noted. “But that could change with the weather. Dr. McNeff said if there was anything that we would need, he’d be more than willing to step up and help.”

Public safety committee members also reported city workers would remove a damaged street light near White Drug.

The council also discussed opening the Rugby Armory to socially distanced walkers from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Council member Frank La Roque reported receiving a call from an elderly citizen who expressed a desire to walk for physical and mental health benefits.

All city council members present except for Trotter voted to open the armory for walking during those hours.

In other business, the city considered easements, including a 22-foot permanent easement on land near North Dakota Highway 3 near Sixth Street Southwest.

The city council also approved bids for two land parcels to Mark Ornament, Rugby, and a land rental bid by Joe Bushel, also of Rugby. Fuel bids by Envision, Harp Oil and Hi-Way mV were also approved.

The council also approved two property tax abatement applications and 12 applications for alcoholic beverage licenses.

The council reviewed and approved the Pierce County Emergency Operation Plan.

The council also reviewed a November 25 letter from the North Dakota Department of Transportation outlining an overlay project on NED-3 through Rugby.

City hall and offices will be closed Dec. 24 and 25. The city council will next meet Monday, Jan. 4.

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