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Ironwood plans major water, sewer work


October 14, 2020


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Ironwood — Engineering and bidding requests to replace priority water and sanitary sewer infrastructure were approved at the Ironwood City Commission meeting on Monday.

The commission unanimously approved authorizing bids for a 2021 water and sanitary sewer infrastructure project, along with the engineering services agreement with Coleman Engineering to conduct surveying, permitting, design, bidding, construction management and inspection not to exceed $339,339.

The $2 million preliminary project estimate will be paid for through a combination of budgeted funds and available utilities funds, said Scott Erickson, Ironwood city manager. Water and sewer studies have defined the scope of work for a comprehensive six-part project, that will use $756,000 from the city water fund $1.2 million from the city sewer fund, and just under $50,000 from the city street fund.

The first part is a complete water and sewer reconstruction and street replacement of a section of West Pewabic Street from Lawrence to Hemlock, and on Lake Avenue from Curry Street to Lake Street, Erickson said. An area of Chestnut Street is also included if low bids allow, or else the engineering portion will be completed and construction will be pushed to the next phase.

The second part is to re-line sanitary sewer mains in the downtown area, he said. Two existing downtown sewer mains are clay pipe and in good shape for re-lining with the work occurring on Aurora Street and the alley behind the Historic Ironwood Theatre.

The third part is to replace the water main on Van Buskirk Road near Norrie Park Road, Erickson said. There have been multiple water main breaks in this area and the project would include some street reconstruction.

The fourth part is to replace a storm sewer on East Ayer Street near Old Country Club Road, he said. The work would involve replacing a section of storm sewer pipe, adding catch basins and some street work.

The fifth part is to improve circulation of the water system where there have been complaints of discolored water, Erickson said. This includes eliminating dead ends that stagnate flow and building a bigger connection at Lake Street between Celia and Garvey streets.

The sixth part is to replace 25 sanitary manholes that are failing, he said. These lids have allowed groundwater into the sewer system and are causing problems at the treatment plant.

“We have many more projects on the table here and our sewer and water studies have identified what we need to do over the next 10 to 15 years, and it is significant as we have a big system,” Erickson said. “We don't want to ignore them. We want to be proactive and take on these biggest problem areas and that is what we are proposing to do with this project.”

Commissioner Rick Semo asked why this project was going forward while the engineering for the water filtration plant is underway. 

Erickson said the treatment plant will cost approximately $9 million and require significant grant and low interest loan funding. If the water and sewer main project were delayed and the funds applied toward the treatment plant then it would be counterproductive as those portions would not be grant eligible, he said. 

A grant application for the water treatment plant was submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Rural Development, he said. The city should hear about potential grant eligibility within the month.

“The water treatment plant project is still moving forward and, really to make that feasible, it will need some fairly significant grant money.”

In other business, the commission approved two change order requests and a final fourth payment for Ruotsala Construction LLC, the contractor for the Ironwood Downtown Square Project. The changes are covered within the contingency funding and does not increase costs for the city.

Paul Anderson, a project manager with Coleman Engineering, said the change orders balance out items that were carried over for the duration of construction along with eventualities such as removing a collapsed former sewer main. The change orders also included additional landscaping, rock, concrete and a redesigned security camera system to ensure more of the park is monitored.

Weather and pandemic-related delays of construction items have pushed the deadline toward later October, he said. Completion of sod, roofing and concrete work should be completed soon and followed by placement of benches, picnic tables and smaller items. 

Erickson said that a ribbon cutting is being planned for the November First Friday event.

The commission approved placing the Municipal Civil Infractions ordinance at a special hearing prior to the Oct. 28 regular meeting. The ordinance creates a fine structure for civil infractions and distinguishes nuisance infractions from civil infractions.

Tim Dean, city attorney, said the revisions were necessary to reflect the decriminalization of marijuana within the state. The marijuana nuisance ordinance addresses odor and provides a structure that allows for violators to pay citations directly to the city’s violation bureau without a district court appearance.

If an individual denies responsibility and disputes the validity of a citation or wishes to make a statement, then they can go through the district court, Dean said. Individuals can address a judge alone or choose to have attorneys present, he said.

The commission approved a special hearing for a second odor nuisance ordinance for the same regular meeting. 

This ordinance is specific to odors and establishes the criteria of what constitutes an odor violation, said Tom Bergman, director of community development. It also establishes the process of fines associated with violations.

The commission also approved:

—A resolution designating off-road motorized trail routes for all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles within the city of Ironwood.

—An administrative services agreement with the Municipal Employees' Retirement System of Michigan to manage the police and fire division accounts for the city. Newer employees have a negotiated 2.25 multiplier in a Division 21 account, and the agreement allows for time accrued in the older Division 20 account to carry the 2.5 multiplier.

—Adopting a resolution to schedule a public hearing at 5:25 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, to hear comments on a blight violation at 137 E. Birch St.

—The mayor’s re-appointment of Jerry Gullan and Mae Moderson to the Patrick O’Donnell Civic Center Board for three-year terms ending Oct. 31, 2023; and Nancy Korpela to the Ironwood Economic Development Corporation for a six-year term ending Oct. 31, 2026.


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