Bridge draws strong opinions

An engineer, at the invite of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, has looked at the closed Crescent Street bridge to see the feasibility of saving it in some form.
Interest in the closed Crescent Street bridge resurfaced during the public comment portion of the meeting when Elizabeth Wakeman an employee of the tribe’s Natural Resources Department, said engineers would be coming June 11 to examine the bridge. If open, the bridge would connect the town of Flandreau with the Flandreau Indian School, one of the community’s larger employers.
Wakeman said she would share the engineer’s findings with the city.
Alderman Don Whitman peppered Wakeman with questions after she said engineers would be looking at the bridge.
“I’d like to know why you’re having engineers come up and look at that bridge?” he asked. When she started to answer, he interrupted and shouted, “It’s not your bridge, is it? It’s the city’s bridge, right? Did you get permission from anybody?”
Alderman Bob Pesall interrupted him, calling for a point of order. “Could she answer one question before you go on to the next?” he asked.
She said there is interest from the school to see the bridge fixed
 “It’s a shame to just see the bridge sit there,” she said. “It’s becoming an eyesore.
“That is a beautiful old bridge. It’s just sitting there,” she said.
The bridge is public property but is closed to any traffic, Jeff Pederson, city administrator, said after the meeting. He has talked with tribal representatives in recent months about the possibility of some money being available for the bridge, even though it is not owned by the tribe, he said.
Wakeman wants engineers to see if people could walk on it or open it up a little bit. Engineers said if the cost is low enough, they could help find money, she said.
The latest cost estimate is $2 million to fix the bridge, which Mayor Mark Bonrud said isn’t feasible for the city to spend. Instead the city wants to put its efforts in fixing the dam to make it safer. He called the bridge “redundant” with the Highway 13 connection to the school and said there’s only just over a minute difference in time to use the highway route.
Other groups have looked at making the bridge feasible again, even as a symbolic tip toward unity, but those efforts have not gone anywhere. At one point, a group pursued an art-related grant. Most recently, the city heard information on possibly seeking a Bridge Improvement Grant from the state to help cover the costs, but that was not pursued.
As long as the defunct bridge is there, others will keep bringing it up, Whitman said.
Those groups should not be telling the city what to do with the bridge, he said.
“We should demo it, blow it down into the river and forget about it,” he said. “It’s our bridge, and it’s our money ultimately.”
In other city business,
•The city will resubmit information on the sewer backup at the Jim and Kim Amdahl home to its insurance company, after a study done by Shane Waterman with Clark Engineering. The city’s insurance has denied the claim, saying the city was not negligent.
The study showed that record snowfall, no mid-season melting, cold temperatures, quick thaws and heavy rains contributed to excessive flows through the city’s waste water system. Estimations are that the system was having to handle seven times the flow it was designed to do at 350,000 gallons a day. Instead, the flows were estimated to be closer to 2 million gallons a day, Waterman said. In late April, pumps were running 24 hours a day.
“The ponds were full, and the city had started initiating a discharge,” he said. Water was coming in faster than it was going out at that time.
The Amdahls had sewage come into the basement twice, one in April and once in May. Both happened when higher temperatures started melting snow very rapidly and it rained, Waterman said. “All the bullseyes got hit at the same time,” he said. “We had water really, really close to the surface of the ground during this month of April. Its’ just amazing how this spring has measured out differently than a regular spring.”
The weather change came so fast that the city couldn’t predict it, he said. “It’s almost unbelievable.”
A city can’t design a system for the kinds of flows that exceeded regular operations, he said.
Cody Amdahl said in his parent’s case, the city was negligent. “There’s just a number of things here that align that were neglected,” he said.
•The men’s restroom at the William J. Janklow Community Center will be under construction beginning this week so workers can update and refurbish the area. The new restroom will be handicapped compliant and will have a total different look.
“They just don’t tile restrooms like they used to,” Pederson said.
•The checklist of things to finish on the First Avenue project is nearly complete, he said. Concrete work and seeding has been done.
•The city’s cleanup incentives in advance of the Sesquicentennial haven’t drawn a large number of participants. While free yard waste pickup was popular, the offer to remove large, unneeded items from yards and an offer of free paint for outside projects was used lightly, Pederson said.
•Work has started on the community safe room at Prospect and Henry. Ground work and initial blocks have been installed.
The city made its first installment payment of $49,152 to F.R.S. Inc.
•The city is getting the final paperwork for the playground at the trailer court off Broad Avenue. The equipment should be installed by fall, Pederson said. The city will pay $18,000 and will receive a matching grant for the same amount.
•The police department is at full staff for the first time in more than a year.
Officer Robert Neuenfeldt has been promoted to sergeant and will be paid $21.23 an hour.
The city also has rehired Elijah Rupe, who served from July of 2016 until March of this year before moving out of state. He has returned and has been given the same position back at the same pay of $20.96 an hour.
•The city awarded the bid for the meter cutover for phase four of the electric distribution system improvements to Bob’s Electric of Flandreau. The company was the only one to submit a bid, which was $38,725. The final phase will complete the transfer from overhead lines to an underground system.
•The Federal Aviation Administration will transfer $141,000 of the 2016 airport entitlements locally to the city of Sturgis because the money hasn’t been used. The money would have lapsed if not used elsewhere. When Flandreau needs money, it will come back in the same manner, said Brad Bjerke, council member.
•Council members approved the renewal of a five-year lease with the state Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs for the armory. The lease amount is $5,700 a year.


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