The Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors continued a hearing on proposed improvements to Drainage District 29 in West Bend Township after a public hearing Tuesday, Dec. 6. A second drainage hearing was concluded on a repair to a project in DD 17 during the same meeting.
Drainage Engineer Rick Hopper of Jacobson-Westergard and Associates of Estherville opened the hearing on DD29 with 16 landowners in the district present for the gathering in the supervisor's boardroom. Hopper reviewed the three options for the lower main of the district, ranging in estimated costs of $564,370 up to $965,300, based on a total of 2,152 acres served by the lower main.
"It would be my recommendation for you to go with the one-inch drainage coefficient option, at an average cost per acre of $448.56," Hopper told the group. "So far, though, I am only aware of 3.1 acres of wetlands in this area, and we do have a mitigation site, and mitigation will be one-for-one, at a cost of $1,000 per acre. That would add a cost of $14 per acre for the mitigation."
Hopper then explained that after developing the initial plan, a second petition for relief was filed for the upper main area of the district. "What I would like to see you do is to continue this hearing so that we can develop a plan to tie the upper main into this project. It would be a good thing to continue this hearing so that you would all be able to have the information on the upper main and the additional cost. If we were to tie the two projects together, there would be a significant cost savings overall."
According to the engineer, doing some rough calculations the night before, he estimated adding the upper main to the one-inch coefficient option would add another $477,000 to the costs, with the half-inch coefficient option rising another $345,000.
When one landowner mentioned that pattern tiling is becoming the norm, rather than the exception in drainage, Hopper replied his designs would be based on the assumption that all lands would be pattern tiled. "We would size this for that possibility."
A question on the use of elliptical tile was raised, and Hopper answered that the oval-shaped tile added an additional 20 percent in cost to the materials.
"This is a huge decision you folks are making on this," Hopper said. "Keep in the mind that the board will work with you for payment, allowing 10 years at three percent interest, and possibly even 20 years at four percent interest. That's very reasonable."
"I don't really see any improvement out there unless we go further north with this," commented landowner Dan Classen.
"That's true," agreed Hopper. "And, a bigger project will attract more contractors and better bids. Construction costs are down and projects like this are actually cheaper today than they were 10 years ago."
"I just wish I was convinced fixing the lower main would fix this, but I'm not," Classen said. "I think the best answer is to take this all the way up north."
Board Chair Keith Wirtz asked the landowners if adding the northern part of the district to the plan changed anyone's mind about the project. There was no response.
With that, the board voted to continue the hearing on DD29 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012 in the supervisors' boardroom of the courthouse.
The board also held a formal hearing on proposed work in Drainage District 17 in Vernon Township. A total of seven landowners appeared for the hearing, which offered two options for improvements to the outlet of the district, a one-inch drainage coefficient at a cost of $38,665, or a half-inch coefficient, at a cost of $33,495.
Drainage Engineer Rick Hopper read one objection to the project, filed by Charles, Tom and Gerald Stillman, which cited opposition as no re-classification of the district had been completed.
There was little discussion from the landowners, who were in general agreement to go ahead with the project.
"I'd say go ahead and get bids for the work," noted Tom Stillman. "We can re-object to a reclassification once that's been done."
With that, the board moved to deny the objection and voted unanimously to direct Hopper to proceed with the one-inch coefficient option for the project.