Marquette will continue to budget, research options for Pleasant Ridge drainage issues

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Marquette residents who live along Pleasant Ridge Road will have to wait a little longer for a resolution to drainage issues in the neighborhood. At its Jan. 15 meeting, the city council decided to hold off on engaging engineering services for the project, instead opting to review the topic along with capital projects at an upcoming budget workshop. 

The council first discussed drainage issues in the area in September, after several inches of rain fell in a short time, washing debris and rivers of water onto properties, causing damage. 

At the time, councilwoman Eleanor Soulli said she knew of 13 homes that experienced problems. 

“There was three feet of water in my yard,” she added at last week’s meeting. 

Although drainage has been an ongoing problem, councilman John Ries said the issue was exacerbated when two tubes, or culverts, were put in. 

“There’s overflow because they get dammed up from debris that comes down,” explained mayor Steve Weipert. 

Ries said the city’s streets committee has determined nothing can remedy the situation “unless you remove the pipes. It would be a waste of time and money to put a band-aid on a bad situation.” 

Jake Deaver, a project engineer with MSA Professional Services, one of two companies vying to engineer the project, said a potential solution could include creating an open channel rather than a culvert. However, some residents would lose most of their front yards. 

Ries said home owners likely wouldn’t be happy about going back to an open channel, and councilwoman Cindy Halvorson noted it could create safety hazards. 

Deaver said the open channel option could handle a 10- to 25-year rain event, but Marquette Public Works Director Jason Sullivan said that might not be enough. 

“Everything’s just so different now,” he shared. “We have a 100-year rainfall every year now.” 

“It’s still going to flood,” Deaver admitted. “That will not solve all the problems.” 

Sullivan said something should be done before the water and debris reaches the Pleasant Ridge area. 

“You have to slow it down from up above, or it will be on the street again,” he stated. 

No matter what, said Bart Nies, with Delta 3 Engineering, Inc, “It’s not a fun project. It’s difficult.” 

Soulli said she’d like the city to wait on the project until it’s sure what the county has planned for potential repairs to B45/Pleasant Ridge Road. 

It might be hard to count on support there, though, said Ries: “The county barely owns enough right-of-way to fix the road. Private property goes right up to it.” 

However, he agreed the city shouldn’t rush into anything. 

“We’re not in a position to throw $750,000 at it,” he remarked, instead suggesting that the city budget for future engineering and design services and continue investigating options to fix the problem. 

“We’re not going to lose interest in the project,” assured mayor Weipert. “It has to be done sometime.” 

Second reading approved for utility rate increase 

At the meeting, the council also approved the second reading of an ordinance that would up the city’s sanitary sewer rate. Due to savings from the solar project at well number four, at the Timber Ridge Subdivision, water rates will not be changed. 

Council members Soulli, Halvorson, Ryan Young and Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald approved the second reading, while Ries voted “no.” The council will consider the third reading and final approval at a future meeting.

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