Wakefield City Council hears from victims of recent storms


June 27, 2018

P.J. Glisson

THE WAKEFIELD city council faces a full crowd Monday as several residents complain of issues resulting from heavy rain occurring between June 15 and June 17.



Wakefield - At Monday's Wakefield city council meeting, victims of recent storms struggled to control their anger and frustration at dealing with flooded basements after heavy rain during the three-day period of June 15 through 17.

As a result, council members voted to create a procedure for future emergencies, although details have not yet been determined. The vote was unanimous, with council member Jim Anderson absent.

Residents complaining said storm conditions certainly contributed to backups in their basement, which they said included sewage, but they also reported similar problems even in the absence of storms.

"I've been in the house five years," said Mike Zeller, of 511 Brotherton St. "Every year it's happened. I'm now gutting out my entire basement because of black mold at my expense."

Zeller, who said he has a young child in the house, concluded, "It's about ridiculous when you lose half the square footage of your house. Help us, please."

Former mayor Les Schneck, of 510 Brotherton St., said, "During the storm, we had more rain at one time than we've had in a long time."

Schneck added, however, "Any hiccup down at the lift station causes issues."

Schneck concluded, "We paid a lot of money for the system. We're going to be paying for it the rest of our lives, and it's not working as it should."

Members of the audience shouted that basement backups also occur on Anderson Street.

"I myself would like to apologize," said mayor pro tempore Amy Tarro, who added residents can't keep dealing with the situation as it has been. "Something needs to be done."

Wakefield city manager Richard Brackney reported city crews had monitored lift stations throughout storms "to minimize the effect," but he and council members agreed some system pipes are too small and the main lift station has trouble taking pressure from excessive rain.

"You can probably blame the Army Corps of Engineers for designing the system," said Schneck.

"We're going to have to establish a procedure, whether it's to put (excess water) in the ditch, to save your basement," said mayor John Granato. "We're going to have to get a fix-it plan going. We have health issues that we're dealing with here."

In relation to dumping excess lift station water onto the ground, Granato said he has discussed the matter with officials from the state's Department of Environmental Quality. "They said it's acceptable," he assured.

In related announcements, Brackney said parts have been delivered to replace some elements within the city's main lift station and Lindquist Electric was planning to address the work today.

He also said last week's closing of all area beaches by the Western U.P. Health Dept. was a blanket order "not specifically directed at Sunday Lake."

"The city did not discharge any raw sewage into the lake during the storm as other communities may have been forced to do," said the city manager.

"It's all precautionary," added Granato.

The council also:

-Voted to request city workers install six electric poles by the next council meeting after learning that three of the six requested at the previous meeting had been installed.

-Voted for the council to be given information to approve or deny any services contracted out by the city.

-Heard Brackney agree to council member Pat Mann's request to provide progress reports on electric and water items surpassing budget allotments, as well as Granato's request to get a related informational update from city treasurer Sherry Ravelli.

-Learned from Brackney that work on the municipal building's storage room was expected to commence today.

-Voted to start the process of replacing all windows in the municipal building.

-Learned Robb Anderson of GEI will provide at the council's next meeting additional information on needed repairs for the deck next to the Wakefield Visitors and Information Center. Granato said he expects the city can do the work without needing a grant.

-Learned from Anderson the completion date of the city's Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater Program will be in November. He said related mapping of the state program is 99 percent complete and said GEI is working with the Western Upper Peninsula Planning & Development Region office on developing a GIS system. A final asset management report will be submitted in late October, he said.

-Voted to put delinquent utility bills on the related property owners' tax bills.

-Voted to purchase five fire hydrants.

-Agreed to distribute a survey requesting opinions on Wakefield at a city table to be set up in Eddy Park during the July 3 town picnic.

-Learned Brackney is working on a formal capital improvement plan for the city.

-Voted for the Sunday Lake spillway gate to be opened when the lake is too high, while also conceding beaver problems remain unresolved because when one group is removed, another group moves in.

-Heard a request from audience member Marcia Vestich for the city to provide all persons who buy a lot at Lakeside Cemetery with a copy of the cemetery rules. Vestich is a member of the city planning commission.

-Learned from Tarro of plans to revise Lakeside Cemetery rules for 2019.

-Voted to rescind a June 11 council vote to override the Headlee Amendment, as council members learned the action was not necessary.

-Voted to file surplus vehicle bids offered by the Gogebic County board of commissioners.

-Refunded a campground reservation for someone with health issues.

Three city meetings will be held on July 9: (1) the city council at 5:30 p.m .; (2) an election committee meeting at 5:15 p.m .; and (3) a planning commission meeting at 4:30 p.m.

City offices will be closed on July 4 in observation of Independence Day. The council also voted to close the municipal building on July 3 due to many city employees assisting with city holiday activities.


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