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Contractors tour old elementary school to prepare demolition bids

MORRIS -- More than 30 contractors participated in a walk-through of the old elementary school building Tuesday afternoon in advance of the bid deadline for the project next week, City Manager Blaine Hill told the Morris City Council at their meeting Tuesday.

“I think all the major players when it comes to demolition, including companies from Minneapolis and all over the place, have taken plans,” said Hill. “I think we should probably have a pretty good list of bidders when we open up bids next week.”

Last week, Hill said he attended a meeting of the Stevens County Solid Waste Committee to discuss the fees and process for contractors to dispose of materials in the county landfill, which is managed by Engebretson Sanitary Disposal and Demolition Landfill.

Hill estimated a contractor would need to dispose of about 30,000 cubic yards of debris from the site, approximately 2,400 truck loads.

City Council Bill Storck asked whether any local contractors had requested a permit to accept the debris from the site, but Hill said the project was too big for that to be an option.

The plans for the demolition also specifies that the regular debris has to go to a state or county licensed facility, while the hazardous material must be sent to a hazardous waste disposal site, Hill said.

Bids for the demolition of the old elementary school building will be opened on Thursday, March 21. The city council will review the bids and make a decision about whether to move forward on the project at their regular meeting on Tuesday, March 26.

Hill: City infrastructure failures highlight need for updates

Over the last several weeks, utility failures around Morris have shown that local infrastructure needs to be updated, said Hill.

Over the course of the winter, there have been five water main breaks throughout the city, including a recent break on North Court Street that caused flooding in a basement and garage. And a recent sewer clog on Lyndale Avenue caused sewage to back up into one residence.

“It's the nature of how old these lines are,” said Hill. “The newer ones are not breaking and causing problems. That's just one of those things that shows it's important for us to do whatever we can to try and upgrade the facilities that we have. These projects are so critical.”

In both cases, it's unlikely that the city's insurance provider, the League of Minnesota Cities, will pay out a claim because the city has been doing routine maintenance on both systems and is, therefore, not at fault for the problems, said Hill.

“We do routine maintenance, cleaning out the main sewer lines,” said Hill. “In this case, the sewer backed up in a house and it appeared to be some sewage that came from another house that clogged up the line.”

Hill also repeated his position that the utilities for homes and neighborhoods are not the property of the city, but instead are owned by the residents that use them.

“What I always tell people is the main line doesn't belong to the city,” said Hill. “It's basically your line in your neighborhood. You have your private line that goes out to the main line that you as neighbors own together that goes out to the next main line that everybody owns, eventually going out to the sewer ponds.”

“In some cases, we've seen where neighbors have done stuff that created problems for other neighbors,” Hill continued.

“So don't crap on your neighbor,” joked Council member Bill Storck in response.

Other business

• Mayor Sheldon Giese appointed Bethany Wolney and Adiroopa Mukherejee to the Morris Human Rights Commission.

• The council approved a consumption and display permit for Crystal Lakes and Entertainment Center. The license will run from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.