Neighbors Take Offense To Correspondence From City
By Echo Menges
Several neighbors of the Broadway, Hill and Shumate Streets subdivision in the southeast corner of town attended the Edina City Council meeting held Monday, September 12, 2011. The neighbors assembled to respond to letters they had gotten from the city concerning disposal of grease into the cities sever system.
“We got a nice little letter from the city saying for us to stop pouring grease down or drains or they were going to subsequently incur fines upon us. We personally were a little offended that that letter went directly to us and our subdivision. We are not the only issue all over town. The Health Department has issue with grease and they (the city work crew) have to work on their pumps and pour chemicals down theirs. To me that letter should have went city wide instead of just notifying our subdivision. We’re trying to work with you to resolve our problems. It’s not fair that you’re just going to raise our rates and not raise them all over town. The Nutrition Site has problems all the time with the sewer backing up and here at City Hall too. We’re all trying to work together as a group,” said Monica Zahn, who owns a home in the subdivision.
“Maybe we could have worded that letter a bit differently,” said Mayor David Strickler.
“I’ve been put in an extremely difficult situation because it is my neighborhood and it affects my neighbors,” said city employee Edina Police Chief Roger Waibel. “We all felt a little bit threatened by (the letter). I send letters out too to different people in town. When I send letters out I actually already know that the person has committed an act or an ordinance violation. In this case no one’s actually been pinpointed. If the letter would have just stated there’s a grease problem, please refrain from doing this and that, that would have been fine. But it was worded like it targeted our neighborhood that was going to get fined. That’s how everyone took it.”
“We certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone,” said City Clerk Margaret Gibson, who drafted and sent the letters out after City Superintendent Mike Wriedt approved them.
“It was a flat out threat is how everybody took it,” said Roger Gipson, who lives in the subdivision.
Angie Miller read a letter from Ron and Lil Troutt, who live in the subdivision but were out of town at the time of the City Council meeting.
The conversation didn’t stop there. The group of neighbors, several city employees along with the council took the sewer conversation a step further discussing the neighbors concerns about the city’s efforts to see the further sewer backups like the ones experienced by Clint and Angie Miller and Ron and Lil Troutt wouldn’t happen again. The group talked in depth about past, present and future maintenance efforts on the lift station that serves the subdivision and the area’s infiltration issues.
“We all agree that if anything we owe it to you people and that community over there to not stop with that section,” said Wriedt continuing on to say the city work crew would continue to eliminate illegal sewer hookups one section of town at a time until all the residents and businesses hooked into the city’s sewer line, including the Knox County Courthouse, have been checked. Everyone found to be illegally hooked into the city’s sewer line would receive the same letters residents in the southeast subdivision have received.
According to Wriedt the next section of town to be tested for illegal hookups will be the area from the south side of the Edina Town Square south to Farm and Home.
The majority of this month’s meeting was dedicated to the sewer conversation. The last order of business made by the council was to agree to send the residents of the northeast subdivision an apology for any “misunderstanding”.
“What’s the feel from the Council on sending a letter of apology?” said council member Renee Edwards. “I think that’s necessary.”“Everybody was very respectful. They have a problem. They want to work toward a solution,” commented City Treasurer Peggy Collinge during the conversation. “They all treated us with respect and we appreciated that. They could have came in angry and screaming but they didn’t have any of that.”