Ruth Street residents question repair costs

By Aimee Hancock -

SIDNEY — Nearly 20 residents of Ruth Street attended a meeting, Thursday, Aug. 9, in the Municipal Building’s Council Chambers, regarding a recently-discovered issue with several of the homes’ stormwater drainage systems.

According to Gary Clough, assistant city manager and public works director, problems with plugged storm drains were discovered during the recent water main repair on Ruth Street, which concluded about a month and a half ago. Subsequently, the road was repaved and concrete curbing was put in to replace the previously existing asphalt curb.

Thursday’s meeting, led by Clough, along with Engineering Manager Randy Magato and City Manager Mark Cundiff, was to discuss plans to repair the storm drainage system, as well as where financial responsibility will fall.

According to Clough, new pipe needs to be put in underground “just behind the curb,” in the grassy area between the curb and the sidewalk.

“No decision has been made on this project,” Cundiff clarified. “We’re exploring options (and) we think we have one that’s fair to the residents, as well as the city.”

“One of the things we came up with was to do the project in-house, to have city staff do it,” Clough said.

After obtaining cost estimates from several outside contractors, it was determined to be cheaper overall if the city were to complete the project.

“We came up with material cost of about $12,000,” Clough said. “We came up with labor costs of about $16,000, and equipment costs of about $26,000. We propose that (the city) would absorb all of the labor and equipment costs and (Ruth Street residents) would only be responsible for the material costs.”

Divided by the 30 residents in the project area, each would be responsible for $400 of the material cost. However, it was mentioned that not every resident in the area currently has a connection to the drainage system.

“There are 19 existing residents that have connections,” Clough said. “If we’d only charge them and didn’t charge people who are currently not using it — although there would be something available for them in the future — it would be about $632 per resident.”

Clough also noted that financing would be available for those who need it. Residents who chose this option would be billed monthly over a one- or two-year period.

After sharing the proposal, the floor was opened up for questions.

Ruth Street resident Cheryl Clark asked, “Why was this not addressed before the asphalt was put down? This was not a problem prior to changing the street.”

“Well, that’s not true,” Clough said. “We didn’t change the elevation of the street, so paving the street had no impact on the decision of whether to do this or not.”

Chloe Heins, daughter of residents Paul and Lori Heins, also expressed concern that this issue was not corrected as soon as it was discovered, and the pavement project was allowed to continue.

“Why wasn’t it addressed when you recognized it was a problem?” Heins asked.

Clough responded, “We went through the process of trying to figure out what the issue was, who was going to be responsible to pay, what caused the problem — did we cause the problem or was it pre-existing? So, we had to go out and survey and figure out what it was. It didn’t impact the paving.”

After several minutes of questions and concerns, Clough, Magoto, and Cundiff left the room to allow residents to discuss among themselves.

Upon their return, resident Jim O’Leary acted as a spokesperson for the group of residents, sharing the points mentioned during the discussion.

“The cost is a big thing,” O’Leary said. “We came up with a number that we’re willing (to pay); we’re willing to go with $300, on top of the money we’re going to be paying for the curb and front of our driveways.”

“That obviously won’t cover the cost,” Clough said. “So, we’ll have to present that to council and get direction from them because it is an expenditure of city monies that we didn’t anticipate, but we’ll be glad to (present it).”

The next council meeting will be Monday, Aug. 13, at 6:30 p.m., in the Municipal Building’s Council Chambers.

By Aimee Hancock

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.