Goessel council considers housing project issues

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA GOERZEN
Goessel City Clerk Anita Goertzen told the city council at the Nov. 20 meeting that she had already been receiving inquiries about Goessel’s summer city-wide garage sale.

She also received comments that the regular July date was too hot.

Therefore, the council chose the second Saturday of June instead, which will be June 9 in 2007. The council also announced that the city-wide cleanup days will be the third Saturday in June and the second Saturday in October.

On the matter of cleanup, residents are reminded that the city’s burnsite is not a dump. Councilor Larry Schmidt said he had found a mattress and box springs at the burnsite recently.

The burnsite is only for branches.

On another matter, the council listened to resident Anton Epp express his concerns about the Harvest Meadow development.

Epp said he and his wife moved to Goessel five years ago. They like the small-town image. He mentioned the “dirt streets, decent park,” the ball field, school, and the “casual, unfrilled, laid-back life.”

He said they like the town’s motto that begins with the words “small town.”

According to Epp, “A town is where people live; a city is what you administrate.”

Epp said the Harvest Meadow development does not fit the image of the town, with its proposed curbs, curved streets, gutters, and paved streets.

“We’re going to lose people,” he said.

Epp read a statement he had prepared for the council:

“You have wasted months and money on outside consultants and lawyers, you have a file full of papers to show for it, and not a shovel of earth has been turned.

“I challenge this council tonight to delete and terminate the resolutions and contracts. Be men and meet with the builder and developer and agree on a fair split of the water and sewer line costs. Put it in simple writing on the front of a paper and sign it together.

“Then let the government get out of the way and let people go to work.”

He suggested asking men of the community who have good common sense to help, people who “probably won’t ask a dime.”

“Tell the builder to call when ready, we will come with our maintainer and cut streets, contour ditches and leave them as dirt. I want to see some growth get started,” he read.

Mayor Peggy Jay thanked Epp for coming to the meeting.

Stuart Porter, representing Schwab-Eaton, attended the meeting, along with Duane Unruh, to discuss the Harvest Meadow development with the council.

“We’re ready to start advertising for bids,” Porter said, and asked for plan approval so the process could move forward.

Plans call for concrete streets, 6-inch water lines, and a pump station with stand-by generator fueled by natural gas.

He asked the council to make some decisions, particularly about what type of water meter to use in the new development and possible fencing around the lift station.

The council approved the installation of 14 touch-read meters in the new addition. Porter said touch-read meters are easier to read, and it takes half the amount of time to read them. He said they would be easier on the backs of the meter readers.

Council member Jim Wiens voiced his approval, saying the meters would be “a considerable savings in time and effort.”

It currently takes eight hours to read all the meters in town. None of them are touch-read meters.

Joe Base of the public works department said, “We have about a dozen meters that are full of water 80 percent of the time,” making it difficult to read those meters. Touch-read meters would eliminate that problem.

“It is a fairly simple system,” Porter said of the touch-read meters. He said they are reliable. “A lot of communities are going to it.”

Porter then discussed the generator/lift station with the council.

“Everything will have a lock on it,” Porter said. The generator will be 4 or 5 feet tall.

“This will be one of the more visible things in addition to the houses that will go up.”

He mentioned aesthetic and safety issues.

Base asked, “How close is it to Main Street?”

Unruh said it would be 145 to 150 feet from Main Street.

Base suggested that a chain-link fence might not be appropriate close to Main Street.

Consequently, the council discussed various other options for enclosing the generator.

Unruh discussed the development’s drainage easement with the council.

Linda Peters, representing Bethesda Home, was at the meeting to discuss the easement. She said Bethesda’s attorney has advised that Bethesda should own that easement property for future purposes.

She asked, “Who is going to maintain it?”

Unruh added, “Bethesda’s desire is that the city would maintain it.”

Porter said that fescue grass and annual rye would be planted in the easement. The council agreed that the city would maintain the easement.

In other business, the council:

set 7:30 p.m., Dec. 7, as the time and date to interview three candidates for the public works department position that is now open after employee Mike Wilson was called for active military duty.

approved the agreement with Stutzman Refuse Disposal for the next three years.

As in the past, the rate will continue to increase by 25 cents on Jan. 1. Therefore, beginning Jan. 1, 2007, the new rate will be $8.85 for a 60-gallon trash cart and $9.55 for a 90-gallon cart for weekly curb-side removal.

In addition, one yearly curb-side clean-up day will be free to residents. Another cleanup day will be scheduled, with a roll-off container paid for by the city.

listened to Donna Duerksen of the Goessel Community Development Task Force. She gave an update of the task force’s activities and invited the city council to join the task force for a meeting Nov. 27 with area representatives to discuss ideas for the community.

She said the task force plans to publish a newsletter. The first one will be sent with December water bills. Copies will be available at businesses in town for members of the community who do not live in town.

“We’re looking to build on the strengths of our community,” she said.

listened to James Voth describe drainage issues at the Ratzlaff Building he owns along Main Street just east of the post office. He is remodeling the building for offices. He said he could provide space for up to five offices.

However, the biggest problem is flooding. He said water between the post office and his building is supposed to drain to the south, but it does not drain.

He described his efforts at getting the water to drain properly. Kinder Haus Preschool uses part of the Ratzlaff Building. Voth said water sometimes runs into the preschool.

“I would like some suggestions at some point,” he said. “It doesn’t take much rain at all for water to back up.”

He suggested that concrete in front of the building might help. Jay expressed appreciation for Voth’s efforts to bring businesses to town. She said the council would need to give the matter some thought and suggested that it be included on the agenda for next month.

listened to Base’s report of the public works department. He said the lift station is almost done. He plans to fill rock into a soft spot at Cedar and Commercial streets. Plans are to begin soon on the parking lot at Sunflower apartments.

heard Base say the sewer lines at the west end of town had been cleaned. All the lines there had been plugged with roots.

heard that Christmas lights would be installed the following week.

heard that Base will attend training sessions in Wichita.

heard Goertzen say that Goessel would host a software meeting Nov. 29. She said Goessel is centrally located, and the city building’s community room works nicely for such meetings.

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