Aldermen said they will not agree to a request to close on the deal Sept. 1 from the seller of a piece of land where a city well may be located.
City Administrator Russell Rost said Walter Murray, one owner of the property, requested that as the closing date.
“That will give us a narrow window to get the test drilling done,” Rost said.
He explained that under an agreement between the city and land trustees signed in March, the city will purchase the 3-acre lot for $150,000.
The trustees are Murray and his sister Sally Ann Bocklage. The land is located northeast of the Strawberry Fields subdivision.
According to Rost, there was no closing date agreed upon in the agreement signed by the parties.
“Why is he requesting Sept. 1?” asked Alderman Karen Erwin. “He is not going to be able to dictate everything.”
“I don’t want to be tied down to a date because he wants us to,” she added. ‘Our job as aldermen is to protect the city.”
Rost noted that the contract includes a contingency that the city pay $20,000 to access the land and pay for damages during a test drill.
He explained that there must be a sample hole bored to make sure the well would be usable at that location.
If tests indicate the site is not suitable for a well, the property owners would keep the $20,000, otherwise it would apply to the purchase costs.
City Attorney Tim Melenbrink said the sales must be closed in “reasonable fashion if everybody executed the contract without a closing date.”
“He chose to sign without a closing date, and of course we did,” said Melenbrink. “Now it falls on reasonableness.”
The city was asked to wait to begin testing until after wheat is harvested from the property. Crops are expected to be harvested early July.
City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann added that after the crops are harvested, there must be surveying work conducted, then test drilling. City staff also will wait for the test results.
“We need to do the planning and that takes time,” said Zimmermann.
He added that a closing date of Oct. 1 better reflects the time needed to conduct surveying and testing of the land.
Melenbrink added that the Sept. 1 closing date requested by Murray is not more reasonable than Oct. 1.
“There is no saying that is reasonable, given the circumstances with crops or drilling,” he said.
The well would be used to increase the water supply in the eastern parts of the city.
The well will be funded utilizing low-interest state loans that voters approved in 2009.
The city received $5 million in loans, said Mayor Mike Livengood. He added that the city saved $1 million by obtaining the loans, at no additional cost to taxpayers.
Upgrades at both the Denmark wastewater treatment plant and Highway 47 lift station were completed utilizing the same loans. There is about $800,000 still in the fund to be used on water and wastewater projects, he said.