homepage logo

Emmetsburg City Council Considers Five Island Campground CompletionEmmetsburg City Council Considers Five Island Campground Completion

By Staff | Nov 30, 2017

The Emmetsburg City Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Nov. 27 at City Hall. All council members were in attendance for Monday’s meeting.

At the previous meeting, Councilman Bill Burdick had requested that Bolton and Menk engineer Neil Guess attend this meeting to discuss the Five Island Campground Project.

Previously this fall, it was found that the sewer system at the new campground was not functioning properly. After using a camera to record the flow of the sewer system, contractor Travis Hulstein of Hulstein Excavating found four areas of concern. Of these four areas, two were repaired and two will be monitored.

“In front of you is a drawing from the videos that were taken a week and a half ago that shows the four areas that popped up in the video that needed to be repaired. Two of them to be repaired, two to be monitored,” Neil Guess commented. “Hulstein’s crew was on site last week, and fixed them the next day and then also there was another one that showed up where they were making the connection to the cabins. That would have been Wednesday of last week, and Hulstein repaired that while they were there too.”

Neil Guess went on to state that these problems are not common in projects. He clarified that the soil at the campground may have been partially to blame for some of the problems as well.

“The best way to say this is- I’ve worked with Hulstein for what, three years now? And we haven’t had these issues on any other product. I think part of it is attributable to the soils out there, and part of it is attributable to a crew that he had there that the foreman is no longer with him,” Guess explained. “All I can say about Hulstein I can say he’s done good work for us in the past.”

The video of the sewers revealed two areas that have potential to gather water.

“The two spots that have the bellies, the sags are towards the bottom end- more closer to the lift station,” Guess said. ‘I suggest on them we monitor them and then just take a look at them. Once we get the campers in there and we get the restroom/shower facility built, we’re going to have quite a bit of pull on that line, and that should be flushing out in those two bellies, those two sag areas.”

“I’m not happy with it, the City’s not happy with it, Travis isn’t happy with it but I can tell you that he stepped in every place that he can,” Guess mentioned. “What he offered last week was that he’d come in and video it again next year. And if there’s anything else that shows up, we’d get it fixed. He did offer to extend the warranty bond. You have a two year bond, he would extend that if that would make the council feel more comfortable.”

“Obviously the problem did not go away as we had hoped. I think that’s pretty blatantly obvious. We don’t have these problems, and I guess I can attribute it to, yeah, the soils definitely weren’t great. They were very spotty,” Hulstein stated. “I had a foreman of a crew, he’s not longer with us. He had done this work for a long time, but apparently there was a reason he wasn’t with the company before that also. All I can say is that we fixed every problem that we’ve seen; we tried to get on it as fast as we could and do the best job that we could. A lot of the problems were attributed to a subcontractor that we had trenching through the surfaces for the electrical line [] We definitely don’t want to leave, we’ve enjoyed working here, we don’t want to leave here with a sour taste in somebody’s mouth. If you want extra warranty, we’ve been in business for 25 years, we’re not going anywhere whatever we can do to put your minds at ease over this.”

“A few of the things I’ve heard, obviously, between the staff and some of the council members and I,” City Administrator John Bird began. “While the two year warranty, and possibly even more than that, brings a little comfort, if we don’t have everything fixed and we open that thing up and all the sudden we have sewers flowing the wrong way and all kinds of problems then we’re going to shut down a campground, we’re going to lose a lot of revenue, and we’re going to have another mess. So that’s concerning to me. So I guess my question is, what if it doesn’t work?”

“We could have a mess out there. And I think any business owner would tell you- one bad experience and you can’t buy enough advertising to overcome that first bad experience. Well word-of-mouth travels fast. If people come here and the sewers not running- it’s going to be hard overcome that,” Bird continued. “That first bad experience, you may never get those people to come back again.”

“I think I can speak for both Hulstein and our firm- we’ll do what ever you want to make this thing, you know make you comfortable with it,” Guess said. “We can flush it again.”

“What kind of additional warranty are you talking on this?” asked City Councilman Bill Burdick.

“Two year,” responded Hulstein.

This two-year warranty is on top of the one already promised as part of the contract. This means that the sewer system will be under warranty for four years.

“And is that from the time the project is accepted?” questioned Bird.

“From substantial completion is when the warranty starts. And you haven’t acted on substantial completion yet,” Guess mentioned.

“Your recommendation is what?” asked City Councilman Mike Hermansen.

“Extended warranty and TV it again next summer,” Guess responded. “And I know where to find Travis if something else needs to be fixed. He’s been doing a lot of work in this area, and he’ll continue to do a lot of work in this area.”

“If there was a problem, you wouldn’t have to per say shut the whole campground off?” Councilman Ryan Berkland asked. “I mean if there was just one little piece of this, I mean would you have to flush everybody out or could just block off six sites and say, ‘you know these aren’t working'”

“Depends where you’re sitting,” Burdick said.

The City is hoping to put concrete on the camping pads next year. If a problem were to arise, it would not affect the new pads.

The City Council discussed the terms of the warranty extension and using a camera through the pipes in the spring. A motion to approve the certificate of substantial completion for the campground project with the discussed additions was made by Mike Hermansen; Ryan Berkland seconded the motion.

“I appreciate John’s [Bird] concern. He’s really looking out for us. I think the- your company [] have shown good faith in the past in the amount of work that they’ve done. And that’s the reason that I make the motion, but I understand John’s concern. None of us want this to go south,” Hermansen explained.

Brian Malm. Todd Bell, Mike Hermansen, and Brian Campbell voted in favor of the motion. Bill Burdick voted against.