CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — A county drain in downtown Crystal is more than 112 years old and has reached the point where action must be taken.
Members of the Crystal Township Board voted at the Nov. 13 meeting to approve a resolution that will allow Montcalm County Drain Commissioner Sandy Raines to replace the outdated drain and restore proper flow.
Raines described the project as a proactive decision to prevent possible flooding in the future.
“The (clay) tile is completely shot, it’s beyond repair,” Raines said at the Crystal Township Board meeting. “It’s beyond my limitations to only perform maintenance (to the drain).”
Board members voted 4-1 to authorize Raines to spend funds not to exceed $50,000 to repair and perform maintenance of the Fuller and Extension Drain, which travels 1,000 feet from W. Lake Street to S. Oak Road. Clerk Bob Naumann voted “no,” saying he wanted more time review the resolution.
Raines said the original estimate for the project came in at $84,260, but after a month of work, she said she and her staff were able to “chisel the project to its bare necessities” and bring the cost down to $50,000.
According to the budget provided by Raines, the cost of materials, which includes 1,000 feet of dual and single high-density polyethylene 18-inch piping, came in at $21,676.68.
The labor for the project was bid out to Outman Excavating at a cost of $13,523.32, which was the lowest of three bids. The additional bids included $21,380 from Dairyland Excavating and $34,400 from Foors Services Inc.
An additional cost of $10,000 was budgeted for engineering and a cost of $4,800 was budgeted for additional contingency.
According to Raines, the project will be paid over a period of two years. The township will pay 20 percent of the cost at $10,000, the county will pay 24.55 percent of the cost at $12,275 and property owners within the watershed district will pay 55.45 percent of the cost at $27,725. The watershed is shared by 129 parcels.
Raines said the project will start “within weeks” before winter weather sets in.
“This is a good time to do this project,” she said. “If we don’t do this project before the frost sets in, we’re gong to be looking at doing this a year from now. If we decide to go this route, the contractor would be in there within two weeks.”
Crystal Township resident Pat McShosh voiced concern at the Crystal Township Board meeting, saying the drain runs primarily through her farm west of S. Oak Road and north of Smith Street.
“How is that going to benefit my farm?” McShosh asked. “(The drain) wasn’t kept up, it was never modernized. Now all of a sudden we have this huge problem.”
Raines explained that if the drain, which was installed in 1901, is not addressed, the county would be liable if any property owner experiences damage from the faulty drain.
“I contracted with the township to clean the catch basins,” Raines said. “In cleaning, we discovered (the drain) is not flowing. It’s just not functioning.”
Once that discovery was made, Raines said the county became responsible.
“There’s a liability now,” she said. “We’re aware, so if something happens, we could be sued.”
By the end of the meeting, McShosh said she was satisfied with the resolution.
Raines added that an official map of the watershed district will be created, because currently no such map exists due to the age of the drain.