Pleasant Ridge Road drainage issues discussed

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Marquette residents who live on Pleasant Ridge Road are hoping someone can provide a solution to drainage issues in their neighborhood. The problem was exacerbated earlier this month when several inches of rain fell in a short time, washing debris and rivers of water onto properties, causing damage.

“A lot of people up there are not very happy,” said councilwoman Eleanor Soulli at the city council’s Sept. 11 meeting. “I’ve contacted 13 homes who had problems.”

“It’s getting to be a safety issue,” added councilwoman Cindy Halvorson, who wondered if the road in the area is being compromised due to the drainage issues. 

Councilwoman Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald said drainage has been an ongoing problem in Marquette. Because of bars placed in the culvert, she said everything is being shoved toward people’s homes.

Councilman John Ries said the problem began when two tubes were installed. A box culvert or an open channel would work much better, he explained. 

Public works director Jason Sullivan agreed.

“That’s the only way it can carry that much water, debris and trees,” he said.

Mayor Steve Weipert said the city has reached out to the county and emergency management to see if funds are available to offset damage costs. The council agreed the county engineer should be contacted next, to review the issue and determine how it could be fixed.

Evacuation route has engineering issues

Pleasant Ridge Road isn’t the only city roadway that’s been affected by excessive rainfall. Sullivan said the city’s bench evacuation route, which was completed earlier this summer, has also been impacted.

Ditches weren’t properly dug along the route, Sullivan said, leaving no path for storm water to run as it goes downhill.

“It was just not designed properly,” he said.

Luckily, Sullivan completed some of that work before the recent heavy rains arrived.

“It would have taken a third of the road down the hill,” he explained.

Neither the contractor, Bacon Concrete, nor engineering firm, Delta 3 Engineering, have inspected the route since that latest storm. The council said the engineer should be contacted, made aware of the issues and asked to inspect the route, hopefully offering potential solutions.

“This is a new project,” Halvorson remarked. “It’s unacceptable.”

In other discussions about the bench evacuation route, Halvorson said one or two dates should be set soon for citizens to take a trial run on the route.

“I think it’s important the citizens drive it. We could have the fire department and police direct it to see what the flow would be like,” she said. “They need to know what the route is and drive it so, in case of an emergency, they know what to expect.”

Solar options discussed for well number four

Both Eagle Point Solar, of Dubuque, and Atwood Electric, of Sigourney, presented the council with proposals for solar options at the city’s well number four.

According to Kent Kraus, solar energy consultant from Eagle Point, the city currently uses 56,000 kilowatt hours over 12 months at the site, costing $7,495. By utilizing solar power, 83 percent of that consumption could be offset, resulting in just 9,472 kilowatt hours at $1,370 per year.

For the project, solar panels would be placed on the ground, collecting sunlight near the well. During times of over-production, Kraus said the city could build up credits. Since the city will still be connected to the Alliant Energy grid, they could pull from those credits during the fall/winter or on cloudy days.

A system from Eagle Point Solar would cost $76,041, while Atwood Electric came in at $72,533.

“Personally, I think it’s a win-win,” noted mayor Weipert, who said the city wants to take a small step in trying solar at well number four before moving on to bigger projects, like the sewer plant.

Joleen Jansen, coordinator for the Clayton County Energy District, commended the city for considering solar options. 

“The less you spend on energy bills,” she commented, “the more you have to build communities.”

The council showed interest in the solar project, but was unsure whether to take it on now or budget for it in the next fiscal year.

City clerk Bonnie Basemann said the city has enough funds to complete the project now. If acted upon soon, both companies said they could complete a project by the end of the year.

Ultimately, the council members opted to wait until their next meeting to make any decisions, so they could have time to fully review both proposals.

New appointment to police commission

The council approved the appointment of Ryan Young to the Mar-Mac Unified Police Commission. Young replaces Brodie-Fitzgerald.

New city attorney selected

The council also appointed a new city attorney: Jeffrey L. Swartz with Swartz Law Firm, Waukon. Swartz replaces Dan Key.

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