by Dennis Dalman
Although it wasn’t officially, legally a public hearing, some residents of Sartell’s Celebration neighborhood attended the June 11 City Council meeting to share their concerns about severe drainage problems that have been plaguing the neighborhood for years.
An official public hearing is scheduled for the city council meeting on Monday, July 9. The council is expected to make a final decision on how to fix the problems at Celebration.
The reason June 11 could not be deemed an official, legal public hearing is because the notice of public hearing by law had to be published in a newspaper twice before the hearing can be considered legal. The city’s designated newspaper for printing legal notices is the Sartell Newsleader. Due to a Newsleader error, the second legal notice for the public hearing wasn’t published.
At the June 11 meeting, Celebration residents told the council of their struggles with drainage problems, especially in the winter months when water will not drain and puddles up, freezing particularly in alleys. The slippery surfaces are an ever-present danger, residents noted. Some residents use sump pumps to get rid of the water, but they too can and do freeze up, compounding the frustrations. Council members Ryan Fitzthum and Mike Chisum are both residents of Celebration.
The council has long been aware of the drainage problems in that neighborhood. City staff and the city’s engineering firm’s officials met with Celebration residents this past January. On Feb. 12, the city authorized the firm of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. to do a feasibility study to determine options for improving the situation.
The completed study lists five options, with costs ranging from $373,300 to $1,086,000. City staff is in favor of the $373,300 option, which is Alternate 1 of five alternates, each with varying costs. Alternate 1 calls for milling and overlay of the affected alleys, as well as other drainage improvements involving drain tiles. The city would pay for the project from its street fund, but residents would also pay some assessments based on which alternative they favor. Per-residence assessment costs would be about $800 per home for the tiling/drainage improvements.
Some residents have been critical of the developer building on that land when drainage problems should have been anticipated. However, the SEH study noted when Celebration was built, about two decades ago, the developer did, in fact, follow the city standards and design requirements of that time.
The council, with input from Celebration residents, will make a decision at the July 9 public hearing, and the improvement project is expected to be completed this year.