Bruce Eveland from the Pine Mountain Gospel Church attended the regular meeting of the Backus City Council on May 6 to discuss whether the church was actually responsible for repair of a water main that burst this winter near the former school.
The burst main was the result of an improperly installed pipe that was not sufficient to resist the water pressure exerted on a water main. The church was originally to be charged for the $3,552.69 cost of excavation and repair because the main was assumed to be located on church property. Eveland questioned whether the church really owned the main. If not, the cost would likely be the responsibility of the city.
Lee Bundy, Backus city water/sewer operator, said there was no record of the city ever taking ownership of the water main. Without a record, there could be no proof that it belonged to the city.
Eveland also wondered why he was not made aware that the church had the option to repair the main. Bundy said the repairs waited two weeks before a church board member complained and requested that it be fixed.
Mayor Kurt Sawyer asked that the subject be tabled until former city clerk Carol Vredenberg could be contacted to see if she knew of the main ever becoming city property during her time with the city.
“The best thing to do is to try to research this more,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer also mentioned the possibility of splitting the cost between the city and the church and writing up an easement to prevent confusion over ownership in the future. The decision was tabled until further research could be done.
In other business, the city:
• Accepted a bid from Boreal Natives of Cloquet for invasive species identification and control along the DNR right-of-way where the city will be installing wastewater treatment systems. The amount of the contract was $8,859 for 2013-14 and $5,846 for mowing and spot spraying in 2015. This action was taken to keep in compliance with the DNR’s requirements for allowing use of the right of way.
• Approved closing County Road 116 in front of Willard’s at 121 Front St. from noon to 1 a.m. June 1 for a pig roast. The approval was dependent upon their absolute agreement to clean the area after the roast.
• Approved a request to close a section of County Road 116 and State Highway 87 on Aug. 10 for the annual Cornfest parade. A permit from the county and state is now being sought.
• Received a complaint because city workers will not connect water services during weekends or evenings. The city proposed a rate of $140 for after-hour water connections, which also would require 24-hour prior notice. Currently, appointments for connection can be made weekdays 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. This action was approved.
• Accepted the retirement of Karl Flier, a 20-year fire department veteran, effective May 1.