IRON RIVER—Snowplows and frozen water lines were hot topics at the Iron River City Council’s Feb. 19 regular meeting.
City Manager Perry Franzoi said that the city has been charged close to $30,000 so far for thawing water lines. The city has been using three contractors: Jerry’s Welding, Three Lakes Steel and FA Industrial Services.
In his manager’s report, Franzoi told the council that as of Feb. 14 a total of 62 frozen water lines had been reported. Some of the extremely frozen lines are taking between eight and nine hours to thaw, increasing the cost to the city.
“This is a catastrophe that we could not anticipate,” Franzoi said.
The city is working with the Michigan Managers Association to put together a presentation asking the state for a disaster declaration in order to qualify for state aid, Franzoi said. It’s not a guarantee that the city will receive any aid, but it is still going to be presented.
“If people don’t let their water run, given the depth of the frost, they’re going to freeze,” he said.
People who park in their yards are also at risk of having frozen pipes because snow acts as insulation for the pipes. If that snow is removed for parking, the insulation is gone, he said.
Iron River residents will have to continue running their water through the spring melt-off because the frost will sink deeper into the ground. The freezing we’ve had will be very bad for the roads in the city, he noted.
Franzoi asked the council to limit the number of times the city is required to pay to thaw lines after property owners refuse to let their water run, causing the lines to freeze again.
He told the council that he believes after the first time the city pays to have lines thawed, the property owner should be responsible. He provided a copy of the new water line policy for the board to review.
City attorney Mark Tousignant asked that the discussion be tabled until proper language could be agreed upon. The council approved the language at a special meeting held Feb. 24.
Those on Genesee Street who were told by letter to let their water run but who failed to do so and had their pipes freeze, he felt, are responsible for the cost to thaw the pipes.
“Plus, there is no liability to the city if it fails or stops providing water,” he said.
The City Council voted to approve payments to each contractor for thawing. Jerry’s Welding’s invoice was $7,750; Three Lakes Steel’s invoice was $6,800; and FA Industrial Services, Inc.’s invoice was $7,760.
Snowplowing was a major concern among residents at the meeting.
Darren Mercier, a business owner in Iron River, expressed concern for his business because of the lack of plowing in the parking lot in front of his store. He asked that the public parking lot on M-189 be moved further up on the priority list because the plowing schedule affects his business.
“I’ve had to go out and shovel on my own and push people out because they were stuck,” he said.
Franzoi said that the parking lots are third in the plowing priority list. Hospital and school roads are first priority, and side streets and secondary streets come in second, he said.
“We’ve had a lot of snow and maintenance issues,” Franzoi said.
Another resident said that the plows should be out at 2 a.m. at the latest because they’re getting too late of a start and can’t properly plow due to traffic. Workers, he said, could be much more productive if they were out earlier instead of at 3 or 4 a.m., he said.
He also said that because of the medians on Washington Avenue, streets are becoming dangerous due to improper plowing.
Franzoi responded that he would investigate the public works schedule to see when the workers start. He also notified the board that one of the haul trucks is down and has to be repaired before it can be used on the roads. The board approved to pay the Scaffidi Truck Center invoice in the amount of $2,545.
The board approved the purchase of the BS&A software for the treasurer’s department. The software will match the county’s software, simplifying the electronic transfer of delinquent taxes.
The monthly police report asked the council to approve a restricted fund balance for forfeiture and gun sales. Chief Laura Frizzo wrote that some of the funds would be used to purchase uniform updates and weapon updates. The board approved the restricted fund balance.
The council also agreed that the city will pay a share of the cost for a new sign on the Chamber of Commerce building. A dedication to Klint Safford will be created, but paid by a private individual.
The cost for the new sign is $3,780 and would be split between the city, the Downtown Development Authority and the Tax Increment Financing district. Mayor Terry Tarsi also stated that as a DDA member, he would ask the Chamber of Commerce to also contribute. Wolf Track Design was awarded the construction of the new sign.
In other news, the council:
--Reappointed Willard Olson to the Iron River Housing Commission for a five-year term.
--Awarded Superior Play the bid for the DIG grant for furniture materials on Genesee Street in the amount of $17,570.
--Agreed to a $100 sponsorship for the Iron County Historical and Museum Society.
--Voted to pay the Westphal’s Inc. invoice for $1,605; Tousignant’s invoice of $1,531; and PC Tech’s invoice of $1,375 for the new computer in the water department.
--Approved the James Spicer Inc. invoice of $3,795 for 5.85 tons of sand and the North American Salt Co. invoice of $2,924.