Kingsford studies Heights sewer separation project

KINGSFORD – It would be possible to separate sanitary sewers from storm sewers in the Kingsford Heights area, according to a report from Coleman Engineering Co. of Iron Mountain.

“It is physically possible, from an engineering standpoint, to separate the sewers in the Heights,” Coleman Engineering Principal Jeff Sjoquist said Monday during a presentation to the Kingsford City Council.

The proposed project runs west from Harding Avenue to Westwood Avenue and north from Woodward Avenue to South Park Street, covering about 160 acres.

The project is designed to prevent sewage backups into homes during unusually heavy downpours. Similar improvements have been made in the Breitung area of Kingsford, with the most recent project completed in 2010 at a construction cost of about $1.5 million.

Sjoquist stressed that this feasibility study is not to be confused with a construction plan.

“Basically, we were asked ‘Is it possible to separate the storm and sanitary sewers?'” he said. “The answer is yes, but that doesn’t solve all of the issues.”

Krisa Orell, project engineer, explained that two drainage areas of sufficient capacity were located. One is on property owned by the Intermediate School District (ISD), the other is near Iron Mountain City Park and a portion of the area lies within Iron Mountain city limits.

Sjoquist said that talks with property owners would be the next step should the council move forward with the project.

Kingsford City Manager Tony Edlebeck agreed and said the property owners in both cases are aware that the city is researching potential drainage areas.

According to Sjoquist, separating the sewer systems in the Kingsford Heights area would cost about $7.5 million, a figure which includes roadway restoration and other construction costs.

In other action, the Kingsford council:

– Approved the release of a monthly activity report from the Kingsford Public Safety Department to The Daily News.

– Received and placed on file a letter from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) commending the city’s management of various issues brought by the unusually severe weather.

“In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen an appreciation letter come from MDOT,” Edlebeck said. “I think that speaks volumes about our Public Works Department.”

– Held a public hearing regarding a United States Department of Agriculture grant to obtain a new patrol vehicle for the Public Safety Department, during which there was no comment.

Edlebeck said the grant application is in and waiting to be considered. The grant, if approved, would be in the amount of $16,000, with a new patrol vehicle costing $29,622.

– Discussed the interpretation of “Floor area, usable” for computing the minimum required parking spaces in relation to size of a business.

The discussion relates to a project proposed by the Birchwood Mall in Kingsford. Edlebeck said an interpretation will set a zoning precedent. A public hearing on the issue is expected to be announced later this week.

– Unanimously adopted a resolution certifying compliance with Public Act 152 of 2011, the “Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act.”

This law limits the amount public employers may pay for government employee medical benefits. All full-time employees will be required to cover 20 percent of their health insurance costs.

Evan Reid’s e-mail address is