Greater St. Clair Homes Inc. board of directors President Gilbert Hoffman asked the board of aldermen and city officials if they were willing to do anything to assist the organization after the sewer line to the senior housing complex clogged and started backing up, forcing emergency repairs to be made to it.
The city’s answer was simple. “Put it in writing what you want us to do.”
Hoffman addressed the aldermen during their meeting last week and said that in late October, the 6-inch sewer main leading to the housing units got clogged with tree roots and started backing up.
“We couldn’t wait to get it fixed,” Hoffman said. “It (sewage) could have started backing up into the units. It had to be done immediately.”
So, Hoffman said Pelton Plumbing was called. Employees arrived and cleaned the system — at a cost of about $4,000.
“We would like to get this settled,” Hoffman said to the board. “Greater St. Clair Homes is concerned with the expense. We want to see what the city is willing to do to help.”
The senior housing complex containing 56 units is located along Park Avenue across the street from St. Clair Southern Baptist Church. The city’s 8-inch sewer main connects to Greater St. Clair Homes’ 6-inch main at a manhole on Redbird Lane just east of the complex.
The 6-inch main is on private property owned by Greater St. Clair Homes, City Administrator Rick Childers said.
The question became whether the city is responsible to help with or pay some or all of the costs of the emergency repairs.
“The manhole and lines were almost certainly installed by the developer,” Childers told The Missourian. “It is extremely probable that at construction, the intent of the developer was to dedicate the manhole and 8-inch line to the city. The question is whether that happened, and if it did whether the city accepted the manhole and line.”
Childers said current city practice is not to accept infrastructure (water, sewer, streets) that have not been installed per city standards.
“There is no way of knowing what the practice might have been (when the complex was built),” Childers said.
During the meeting, City Attorney Kurt Voss suggested Hoffman review the plats of the development to see how they were written.
“If it (manhole) was accepted formally, there should, or at least could, be an easement filed which identifies the line and manhole as accepted by the city,” Childers said. “What I keep stressing is that instead of going to the time and expense of digging through records possibly as far back as 50 years, Greater St. Clair Homes should simply send us a written request for what they want done. That would go to the board. The board could reach a decision, if appropriate file and record the easement and discuss if we’re willing to reimburse any part of the repair costs already spent by Greater St. Clair Homes.”
That same sentiment was expressed several times during the Nov. 4 meeting by Childers, Mayor Ron Blum and the aldermen.
“The research is the responsibility of Greater St. Clair Homes,” Childers said. “I’m not going to look for anything until they put it in writing what they want the city to do.
“Whether you want us to accept the manhole, help with expenses, whatever, put it in writing.”
“The city doesn’t pay for something that isn’t ours,” Ward 1 Alderman Zach Fuchs said. “The question is is it your manhole or ours? ... Put something in writing.”
Hoffman responded that looking into the situation could end up being “a guessing game.”
“It may be hard to determine (who owns the manhole),” he said.
However, the discussion ended with Hoffman saying he would try to look into the situation further and then possibly coming back to the board of aldermen.