Wykoff preparing for summer construction project

Fillmore County Highway Engineer Ron Gregg, standing, had news of the County 5 construction project for Wykoff's City Council last Monday evening.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Road repairs and numerous other items filled Wykoff’s City Council agenda last Monday, May 13, as the councilors dealt with late-spring projects and upcoming summer work.

Fillmore County Highway Engineer Ron Gregg and WHKS engineer Daren Sikkink appeared before the council to give an update on the work that is to be done on County Road 5 – which runs concurrent with Wykoff’s Gold Street, or its main street – and Fillmore and Line streets. The engineers had presented information during a public hearing held Dec. 12 that outlined the project area, background, proposed construction, assessment process, schedule and costs; they noted the work would address widening the roadways, improving water mains and sanitary sewer, and installing curb and gutter and storm sewer. At that time, the schedule set the bidding process to be completed in April with the final assessment hearing and contracts awarded in May. Construction will begin in July and end in October if all goes well.

Gregg answered questions posed by the council regarding work being done in front of City Hall, which is also the fire hall, and whether the project would disrupt plans for this year’s Wykoff Fall Fest at the end of September. Gregg related the project is still happening but is also still in the design phase.

City Clerk Becky Schmidt questioned whether the community hall would have to have a different access or parking and whether any cancellations might be necessary, but Gregg and Sikkink assured her there would be no need for the city to contact hall renters and parking might be relocated to the east of the hall instead of the usual front-door parking on the west.

The council wanted to know if the uptown block of Gold Street could be overhauled next year, but Gregg commented, “There is no good time for construction…things might need to be changed up a little to make things work. The road will probably not be paved this year, which means it will be gravel all winter long, all the trees in the street boulevard will be removed, but all sidewalks will be ADA-compliant.”

Fire Chief Wade Baker registered the fire department will require access to the fire hall at all times, but he felt there should be few problems involved if communication is maintained.

Gregg concurred that emergency services will need access and the matter needs to be discussed further at an upcoming public hearing set to review assessments.

The councilors took a roll call vote to set a public hearing for discussing municipal utilities and the County 5 project Thursday, May 23, at 7 p.m.

Residential drainage issue

Resident Leroy Rowe’s concerns came next, as Sikkink introduced the drainage issues that had ensued a concrete installation project near Rowe’s home.

“Just an update on last year’s project,” Sikkink said. “There are some concrete and drainage issues that the contractor has not gotten back to us about. June 15 is the final completion date that they need to be back here, and the work completed. I met with Leroy and assured him that the contractor will not be paid until the city is satisfied with the work.”

Rowe showed the councilors pictures of the elevation differences between the concrete at his home and the newly-installed concrete, citing that he had water running onto his driveway that had backed up into his home.

“These are pictures of my house, and the cement is too high,” he said. “The neighbor’s water runs into my driveway. The contractor isn’t willing to fix it. I would have to sue everybody in the neighborhood, but that’s not too neighborly. I did lose $3,000 in carpet in my basement that I never asked anyone for.”

Councilor Richard Gleason pointed out there was a gully in the cement that apparently contributed to the flow into Rowe’s yard, though Rowe acknowledged there had been a slight drop between the properties before the cement was put in place.

“The engineer came up there, and he put a water hose up there,” Rowe said. “In 45 years, I’ve never had water before, and now, with the cement, there’s water in there.”

Sikkink stated that he was becoming frustrated because he hadn’t heard from the contractor, but he will persevere in seeking the amendments to the work, as there is a retainage on the contract that can hold the contractor to carrying out repairs.

Rowe added, “I wanted to make sure this is fixed before you guys paid for it, or otherwise, they’re gone.”

Visitors question policy

Visitors included representatives of the local veterans’ organizations who were somewhat indignant at the city’s recent change in hall rental policy. The council recently streamlined its policy to require some payment from groups that use the hall, including the veterans’ groups, because of the lack of uniform rental allowances made for various different organizations. The council sought to establish a policy that treats everyone the same and thus, fairly.

Schmidt informed the veterans if the council were to allow one group to use the hall free of charge, another would request the same, and the city has to pay to have the hall opened and cleaned each time it’s rented.

More recently, the Wykoff By Design (WBD) group has been perusing how to repurpose the former Wykoff school building has convened in the City Hall meeting room after first requesting a break on hall rental fees – only because the school building is not centrally-heated and therefore too cold for meetings – and found the arrangement works well, as the meeting room accommodates their purposes. The council offered the meeting room to the veterans, who then stated they would check with their membership to find out whether the room is suitable.

Door bid accepted

The council then reviewed bids for a community hall door replacement project – comparing one submitted by Dwight Scrabeck for approximately $3,900 and another by Handyman for an estimated $3,600. The original quote the council passed up was nearly $6,000. Councilor Mary Sackett made a motion to accept the quote from Handyman because it included a Wi-Fi-enabled lock that would allow Schmidt to unlock the hall from the clerk’s office or even from home if necessary, and the council concurred.

Wykoff by Design

Eva Barr, speaking for Wykoff By Design, reiterated an invitation to the council to have someone from the city present at WBD meetings “seeing as so much hinges on the city’s knowledge of what transpires. We’re going to work toward consistent meetings, and it would be good to know what representative would be available, and on what day and time.”

WBD participant Tom Eickhoff had come from the Twin Cities to show the councilors his concepts of what the school might become if enough support is provided by the community.

Holding things up was a common theme of the evening as the council moved on to hear a report from Barr and the Wykoff Area Historical Society (WAHS), which is responsible for overseeing the operation of Ed’s Museum. WAHS members had proposed during the April council meeting to remove the original window glass and work on stabilizing the building, as it is leaning too far in one direction and is becoming a major concern. They shared it is becoming difficult to open the front door due to the structural shift. Grant funds have been applied for, but there is no certainty that WAHS will be chosen for the award.

WAHS member Carolyn Baker Meyer informed the council WAHS has chosen not to remove the window glass and store it for safekeeping or to proceed with stabilization at this point.

“If there are big surprises, that becomes another project,” Barr stated. “Our goal is to protect the city. We feel like we made a very good choice. We acknowledge that this is likely the last chance for this building – if we fail, we will likely have to take dire action such as moving, but this is what everyone has been accepting.”

Baker Meyer questioned the council, “Is it agreeable that if the city were awarded the grant, you would sign as a check-writer?”

Schmidt verified, “As administrator? Yes.”

Water meter questions

Water meter head installation garnered some attention as well because the city has decided to replace its data-collecting system and purchase a remote data collector that would allow a signal to be sent out from City Hall to gather meter readings, a faster and more efficient means of reading meters than spending two hours each month trolling through the streets.

The trailer park’s meters were of particular interest to the council because there stood questions about whether the trailer park owner would guarantee payment would be made on a specific number of trailer lots’ meters, be there trailer homes there or not.

“If there’s a trailer there, they’d be paying on it just like an apartment,” Schmidt said.

Councilor Mary Sackett shared her view. “We don’t have anything to force him to increase the number of trailers…he’s not having to pay a monthly fee.”

The council was reassured, to some extent, that there would be payment by residents who do have trailer homes already in place, but the matter remained troublesome for a couple of councilors.

Building tour

Mayor Al Williams did not adjourn the meeting after conquering a good portion of the agenda – instead, the council recessed until everyone who was interested in touring the school building, which is owned by Rod Thompson and Rick Stockman, could do so and see what they wanted to see there after Eickhoff gave a quick presentation on his proposed designs that are not quite ready for full publication and digestion. The tour lasted approximately 20 minutes, at which point Williams called for adjournment.