The theme of last Monday's Chatfield City Council meeting was "water, water everywhere, everywhere I go." The council set out to determine what to do with water usage charges assessed to residents who have been instructed to keep their faucets turned on continuously until spring to avoid subterranean pipes freezing and breaking.

Chatfield City Clerk Joel Young stated, "I think everybody's aware that the frost is so deep that it's freezing up service lines and one water main. To date, we have 190 people who have called the office to say that they're running water, with some who have asked if they would be responsible for the cost of water and sewer."

Young also explained a lot of people are concerned and the city staff has discussed the issues and noted property owners are responsible for the line from the main to their homes, but the city is responsible for the mains.

Meters were last read on Jan. 17 and Feb. 19, Young explained, and the city estimated that the water run to mitigate pipe breakage will be about 25 percent of the billing cycle.

Councilor Mike Urban asked, "Are we looking at averaging this?"

Young replied that the city's utility billing software will take the last 12 months' use and average it out.

Councilor Dave Frank commented, "I think that's fair."

Mayor Russ Smith observed, "This is uncharted territory for us, not something we see very often."

Young's next question was regarding whether the city would be averaging everyone's bill or just those bills belonging to people whose water was reported as running until spring and the councilors acknowledged that some neighbors are helping others by offering the use of garden hoses as water service on streets where the lines had frozen or broken.

A vote passed to average everyone's bill. Young pointed out that city works foreman Tony Lammers had cut his vacation short to help the city crew deal with water main breaks and that the crew had done a great job of managing water and snow over Valentine's Day weekend.

Smith added, "The crew took over and did a bang-up job...they were out at all hours."

Street improvements

Next, the city council adopted a street reconstruction plan and accepted general obligation bonds.

A public hearing has been set for Monday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at city hall to discuss street and water service repair assessments, as the city is examining making improvements to Twiford, St. Alban's Place and Bench Street in Chatfield proper and Pine Street in West Chatfield.

Mike Bubany of David Drown & Associates presented a roundup of the projects intended for each street and what the costs associated are - overall, the projects total $1.9 million, including construction, contingency and engineering.

Before outlining the various tax implications of the project, Bubany said, "While these are four separate projects, I'd like you to think of them in three legal pockets of authority," including water and sewer funding.

The initial bond for the entire project is $1,565,000, plus the 10 percent contingency and engineering.

Work on St. Alban's Place will be made partially possible through grant funding from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and extend utilities to make the relocation of E-Z Fabricating feasible.

On Bench Street, new sanitary sewer and water service lines will be put in from First Street to Sixth Street - specifically, the aging water main, which is either clay or cast iron and will be replaced with PVC pipe - and new curb and gutter, paving and sidewalk ramps installed. Residents of Bench Street will be advised of assessments at the public hearing.

Twiford improvements will be made to make way for the coming of the Family Dollar store that has been platted there - DEED also provided funds for that project.

In West Chatfield, Pine Street will be repaired with new pavement, but not widened. A motion passed to vacate the right-of-way on Division Street and the adjoining alley to make way for Family Dollar's construction.

Other business

In other business, the council approved a run and walk planned for June and sponsored by the Chosen Valley Care Center (CVCC) as a fundraiser for the care center.

The council also authorized payment for retired maintenance worker Steve Horsman's time invested in assisting the city during water main repairs and made allowances for his return to work on a discretionary basis.

The Chatfield Saddle Club submitted a request to place new aluminum bleachers at the Mill Creek Park horse arena and Lammers reported that all costs for the installation of a concrete slab and the bleachers themselves would be the club's responsibility.

Finally, the council agreed to continue supporting the Bluff Country Hiking Club (BCHC) and the Lost Creek Hiking Trail, as the club and trail have provided recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.