Harrisville asks residents to keep ‘pencil lead’ width water running

HARRISVILLE Alderman Jim Kaiser’s frozen water line could be just the tip of the iceberg in the City of Harrisville. He and two businesses reported frozen waterlines recently, and city officials have been advising residents to run a stream of water the size of a pencil lead through a tap to prevent further problems.

However, at Monday’s regular council meeting, the aldermen discussed if that was the right solution.

Harrisville City Treasurer Tom Keerl said that cold temperatures have forced frost deeper into the ground, causing not only problems for Kaiser, but also for a lumber yard and an office building with retail tenants. The last time this occurred was in 1996, when city water pipes froze.

Alderman Mike Baird said he was worried that the city’s request could mean residents will have to pay higher water bills.

“If we’re going to ask the community to run their water so the pipes don’t freeze, they have to be exempt from an excessive water bill,” he said. “If someone comes in and complains I think we need to address those.”

In response, Keerl said at most the additional cost would be around $20.

The tradeoff is that the stream of water could prevent thousands of dollars of costly repairs for residents, if their lines freeze and burst between their home and the curb, members said.

City attorney Dave Cook said water officials could look at the number of residential users who are affected, then determine whether the city needs to foot the bill.

The aldermen then decided to hold off on additional discussion until the council’s next meeting March 17. Keerl said that would give him time to have the meters read, input the usages into the computer and look at the data.

In other news, the water and sewer fund was able to put $30,000 into its capital improvements savings fund during its fiscal year, Keerl said.

“In actuality we’re doing quite well on sewer,” he said.

Those savings could be used as a match for a $1.2 million grant to build two sewer lift stations above ground sometime next year, he said. If the city decides not to pursue the special grants, the money could be used to pay for other improvements.

The council is hoping to hear back about the sewer system grants at the end of the month, said Mayor pro tem Joan Crick. Mayor John Dobis was absent.

In other business, the aldermen:

approved payment of $14,960 in bills due since their last meeting.

will hold a 2014-2015 general fund budget hearing at 7:30 p.m. March 17.

approved a revised request from Craftmakers Cabin to use city property July 5 through July 7. The group will use the Saturday to set up and the Monday to tear down.

heard that the lineup of summer concerts has been filled. The 7 p.m. performances will be held Wednesdays July 9, 16, 23, 30 and Aug.6

were told a developer has hired a civil engineer to evaluate infrastructure and plans to vacate several unbuilt streets so a housing development can be constructed. Rick Pender and his wife, Carolyn Pender, asked the city last summer to vacate those streets. The couple wanted a portion of the land turned over to them so that their property could be subdivided into parcels for approximately 40 modular homes.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.