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From football field to a pond?

By Staff | Jan 20, 2019

The goal posts and the scoreboard are still in place at the former United South Central High School football field. Now the Wells City Council is considering using the area for storm water drainage.

Could the old United South Central School football field become a pond?

The Wells City Council, including newly re-elected Mayor David Braun, re-elected member John Herman, and new member Jessica Mortenson, spoke with the city’s administrator, CJ Holl, and city engineer Travis Winter about a proposed storm water study for the old football field site.

Winter informed the council that he had been in discussion with the Wells Active Living Coalition (WALC) with regards to the property site. It has not been touched for three years since the new USC school was built and the old school properties have been up for sale.

While the Wells Housing and Redevelopment Authority has been working diligently in creating housing development opportunities for the city out of the old school building site, the football field has been a footnote in the city’s redevelopment plans for the property.

Until now.

Winter stated the storm water study would help the engineer see if there are any benefits to the city by creating a ponding area to help with storm system drainage. However, this storm water study would come at a cost of $8,800 to the city of Wells.

Questions arose from the council as to whether or not the old football field site was also a burial site for damaged properties in Wells’ 1946 tornado. Some council members wondered if the buried refuse would be a hindrance to the proposed WALC pond and fountain project.

“If we dig into that, could it cause more of a hindrance than an enhancement,” asked councilwoman Brenda Weber. “I just don’t know if this is worthy of such a large amount of money to find out we can’t do anything with the property.”

Holl responded that even if the debris was there, the majority of it would be decomposed. He also stated that if the site were to become a pond or fountain area, there would be a much larger source of funding through state grants and other forms of funding to proceed with the plan.

“There’s $198,000 in the storm water fund, that’s dollars that will go into infrastructure, like this,” stated Holl.

According to the Wells street foreman, Mike Pyzick, much of the city’s storm water system still has a smaller than average tiling network, and this could alleviate future concerns with drainage.

“Does WALC have a vested interest in this, or are they just waiting for us to open our checkbook?” was councilwoman Crystal Dulas’ response to the idea.

“We need to say no right now because no one has come to complain about water in their basement,” stated city councilman Herman.

After little discussion and confirmation from Holl that no action was needed on the topic, the council quickly tabled the discussion for further conversation. The council also requested that perhaps a bit more information gathering on the property, itself, would be beneficial to further conversations.

With regard to the old school site, Ann Schuster of the Wells HRA visited the board with a request to waive sewer connection fees and curb cuts for the lot properties on the old site.

“We are this close to being able to having some development on these lot sites, and we would greatly appreciate it if the city would consider waiving these added costs,” said Schuster. “Wells Public Utilities has already waived their fees, and we are requesting the same from the council.”

Schuster, along with the rest of the Wells HRA, felt waiving any additional fees from the cost of development may entice more people to purchase lot sites which are still available.

“I think this is a small part of what the city can do for housing development,” stated Holl to the council. The council agreed with Holl and made a motion to waive both sewer connection fees and curb cut costs to assist the HRA in selling the lots on the property.

The Wells City Council also:

Received a grant for the Wells Airport for a lighting upgrade. Winter states the goal is to bid the project out in February and begin construction once conditions allow. The total cost of the project is set at $340,000, only $26,000 of which will be paid by the city of Wells thanks in part to the grant the city received.

Discussed a drainage and storm water tile project along Thurman Street. Winter stated there were issues with drainage of a ditch along Thurman, which became partially buried when the Wells Business Park project began. He stated the project would assist in covering culvert pipes and alleviating any nuissance water issues. The only bid which came in for the project was from Dulas Excavating. Councilwoman Weber requested other bids from other entities, though Winter stated it would not be necessary for such a minor project.

Heard from Pyzick regarding a manhole and sewer issue along the Highway 22/109 intersection. Pyzick stated that during a televising of the condition of the sewer, a length of seven feet of tile was noticed which has begun washing away. Questions arose as to whether it was a main break or just sewer issues, to which Pyzick was unsure.

Approved an extension of a purchase agreement with AMB properties through the Wells Economic Development Authority in order for the new business to begin building in the new Wells Business Park.

Looked at and approved a street lighting plan for the city of Wells. The street lights will begin to be turned into LED?lighting. The hope is to have the entire city using LED in their street lights within a few years.

Proclaimed January as mentoring month in the city of Wells.

Appointed council members to committees and other appointments for the new year.