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Fairmont residents demand fix

FAIRMONT — The residents

of the 1300 block of North Grant

Street delivered a message to the

Fairmont City Council on Monday:

Fix our water.

The eight houses on the dead

end street get water service through

a cast iron water main installed in

1954 and prone to corrosion. Over

the past few years, the neighbors

have dealt with increasingly rusty

water coming into their homes. The

city installed special units in the

homes to remove the rust and also

supplies the replacement fi lters as

needed, but the problem is escalating.

Lori Schlomann fi rst contacted

the city about the foul water in

2015 and got the fi ltration system

in 2016.

“We now replace our water fi lter

about every three weeks. When we

started, it was every three months,”

she said.

When Mary Shumski moved

onto the block about three months

ago, she was told that the city provided

and changed the fi lters as

needed, but that no longer is suffi –

cient.

“I’ve never seen such rusty

water in my lifetime, and I grew

up on a farm,” she said, adding that

the issue has been “put on the back

burner for a long time.”

Shumski urged the city to take

action and resolve the problem.

Jason Hegdal produced three

dark pumpkin colored cylinders

and explained to the council that

these fi lters, which were once pure

white, were ones he replaced in his

home.

“A year ago, I got three months.

Now, it’s about two weeks,” he

said. “I hope we get a resolution

to this fi gured out because I think

we’ve kicked the can down the road

far enough.”

Hegdal also expressed concern

about what the tainted water

is doing to his home’s plumbing,

water heater and other appliances.

The problem lies in gaining access

to the water main. The street

would have to be torn up to complete

the work.

Councilman Wayne Hasek commented

that the street seemed like

it was in good shape and wondered

about re-routing the water line.

Re-routing would not solve the

issue and would result in the street

being “a patchwork of patches,”

said Troy Nemmers, city engineer/

public works director.

“That (tearing up the street) has

been the challenge with this project

the whole time,” he said. “You have

to tear up the street to replace the

water main, and if you replace the

water main, you should replace the

surfaces. There’s no good economical

way to replace the water main

without tearing up the street.”

Councilman Tom Hawkins felt

the city had no choice but the tear

up the street, even if the surface is

in good shape.

“Even if the street was two years

old, you’d just do it. You don’t

have any choice. They can’t live

with that, and it’s getting worse by

the week, it sounds like,” he said.

Councilman Randy Lubenow

responded to Shumski’s comment

that if repairs were made, the city

should see the project as an infrastructure

issue, not an assessment

issue.

“As long as I’m sitting in this

seat, if we tear up the road, I will

push very hard for no assessments

because this has been kicked down

the street too long,” Lubenow said.

“It hasn’t been fi xed. We’ve just got

to bite the bullet, and get this

fixed, and I don’t think you

guys should suffer more than

you’ve already suffered.”

City Administrator Cathy

Reynolds assured the residents

that the city is continuing

to work on the rust

problem.

“It’s an issue that we’re

aware of and has been on the

forefront,” she said.

Reynolds said that the

street would qualify for the

2021 street improvement

program, which will come

up for council consideration

at the beginning of the year.

Including it in the improvement

program would be one

way to resolve the issue.

Turning to another matter,

the council approved more

than $223,000 in CARES

Act grants for city businesses

and non-profits. The city

had contributed $250,000

and Martin County pitched

in $750,000 to create a $1

million bank for grants. The

county approved $338,000 in

aid last week and has opened

a second round of applications

through Nov. 5.

Recipients of the Fairmont

grant monies include:

Dee’s Floral and Design,

Bean Town Grill, El Agave,

Lakeside Salon, Five Lakes

Ranch (Pizza Ranch), Associate

Optometry, Five Lakes

Dental Studio, Ready Haul

Trailers, D&S Trophies &

Embroidery, Cutting Edge

Fitness, Fairmont Awards,

S&J Excavating, Schmitz

Management Company,

Birch Street Dentistry, Reiter

Dental, Anytime Fitness,

Key Ventures Inc. and

Buntjer’s Salon, all receiving

$10,000; Just Fur Fun

Grooming, $3,300; Hair by

Jennifer, $2,800; Giddy-Up

Boutique, $7,000; Hair Etc.,

$4,900; Martin County Historical

Society, $7,000; Indulge

Salon and Spa, $5,100;

Our Story Studios, $7,700;

and White Orchid, $8,500.

(Amounts were rounded off.)

In other business, the

council:

— Approved a 50 percent

reduction in assessments for

the Lake Avenue improvement

project for John and

Marilyn Hovick who own

property on the street. At a

previous council meeting,

the Hovicks requested the

reduction due to the fact

that they had paid more than

$8,000 in assessments for

a Lake Avenue upgrade in

1989. Because the city does

not generally do major projects

on the same street in a

30-year period, the council

unanimously authorized

dropping the Hovicks’ assessment

to $5,680 as they

had requested.

— Approved an agreement

not to exceed $83,000

with MEI of Mankato to upgrade

and repair the elevator

at City Hall. The elevator

was installed in 1987 and is

all original equipment. Controller

boards and software

for the elevator are obsolete

and cannot be repaired or replaced.

The project will take

several months to complete.

— Approved negotiating

a contract with Kraus-Anderson

of Minneapolis for

construction management

services for the city’s proposed

new public works

building. The management

services would include

assisting with finalizing

construction documents,

managing construction of the

facility, reviewing all plans,

developing bid packets and

reviewing bids, and provide

recommendations to staff

and council on the project.

The estimated cost of the

services, which is based on

the total construction cost, is

$560,000. Council members

noted that this is not a commitment

to do the project,

just the next step in the process.

Lubenow cast the lone

dissenting vote.

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