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Home owners growing tired of Sixth Street debacle

A number of property owners living along Kenmare’s Sixth Street construction zone are growing increasingly impatient as finish work seems to be rolling at a snail’s pace.

4/15/15 (Wed)

Diamond grinder . . . An operator of Diamond Surface Inc., guides a machine called the diamond grinder, that cuts a 30-inch pass with diamond tips, smoothing the rough surface of the concrete on Sixth Street. The truck in the rear feeds water, which is used as a lubricant, into the tank behind the operator. The darker strip on street, between the diamond grinder and the truck, is the 30” swath that has just been resurfaced as the machine passed over.

By Marvin Baker

A number of property owners living along Kenmare’s Sixth Street construction zone are growing increasingly impatient as finish work seems to be rolling at a snail’s pace.

As many as 36 driveways and alley aprons remain undone on an $800,000 job that had a completion date of Oct. 1, 2014.

Numerous sidewalks and boulevards were ripped up last summer and they too, have become a sloppy, muddy mess since the frost has been coming of the ground.

“They took out our sidewalk and took more than they needed to and didn’t put anything back,” said home owner Lisa Bartlett. “That’s annoying, but there is no way to get into the house without tracking in mud. The other part of this is, I can’t park in my driveway.”

Bartlett is infuriated. She has been to city meetings and nobody returns her calls in seeking answers about the project.

Bartlett said her driveway was asphalt, was cut in half, then pulled out, only to be replaced with a mixture of dirt and sand.

In addition, trees and shrubs, as well as the boulevard grass, were all removed and not yet replaced.

Kenmare public works director Mike Thompson made his best attempt to appease the family, according to Bartlett, by adding gravel to the sand and dirt, but she remains skeptical if or when it will get back to normal.

She is also upset because the asphalt driveway was paid for and the muddy mess left behind is grinding away at the Bartletts’ backyard privacy.

“Our driveway is mush,” Bartlett said. “They made so many promises. I went to meetings. I even brought people with me, and they didn’t listen.”

Home owner Stan Freeman has also had his share of issues with the project, but took a slightly different approach in rectifying some of the problems.

“The driveway was messed up, but I got my driveway cemented,” Freeman said. “I was around and kept hounding them and hounding them until it was done. The driveway is fine, it’s just two inches short of what it should be. But the yard is a mess.”

Unfortunately, the city of Kenmare is only partially responsible. The original plan called for Kenmare to pay part of the cost in exchange for maintenance and Ward County would take the lead role in construction, since Sixth Street is also Ward County Highway 2.

The Kenmare News reached out to Ward County engineer Dana Larsen, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.

However, Moore Engineering’s project manager, Dave Roedel and construction inspector Caleb Kjetland, did provide their take on the debacle.

“We had some weather issues and some poor soils issues,” Roedel said. “We didn’t get it completed by freezing and at that point, you can’t do concrete work. So, we suspended construction which meant temporary driveways.”

He added asphalt plants stop manufacturing the road surface mix during the winter months until the frost comes out of the ground, which is why the driveways haven’t been completed.

Roedel said Wagner Construction, the International Falls, Minn., contractor, is returning to finish the work that he anticipates will be completed by Mid May, depending on weather conditions.

Another Minnesota company, Diamond Surface Inc., from Rogers, will be in town through Thursday grinding down rough surfaces on the hardened concrete that was poured in increments last year.

According the Kjetland, the earliest work on driveways can be anticipated this week, or to begin on Monday.

“We anticipate prep work for curb and gutter the week of the 19th to be safe,” he said. “And we anticipate up to two weeks for the street, curb and sidewalks.”

In addition, some concrete panels in the street have cracked and will have to be removed and replaced, according to Roedel.

“We’ll replace those panels two weeks later, then it will be signing and striping. Then, it will be restoration of the boulevards,” he said. “We’re looking at a completion date of mid May, weather dependent.”

Like Bartlett, home owner Jim Cart is tired of the muddy mess and despite having a relatively dry spring thus far, patience is growing thin.

“It’s a muddy boulevard and we have to walk around the house to avoid the mud,” Cart said. “I have to use a four-wheel drive to get through.”

He said Wagner Construction changed the grade going into his driveway, altering it 10 to 12 inches. He said it looked pretty when it was done, but the sand pushed away causing ruts that were nearly impassable.

Cart’s sidewalk was also removed and he said that’s OK, as long as a new sidewalk replaces the old one.

Despite last year’s delays and Kenmare’s disgruntled residents, Roedel is optimistic that work will be completed soon.

“The big thing for residents and the largest concern is we’ll start working on the driveways and sidewalks around April 20,” he said. “I understand the residents’ driveways and unfortunately, the ground is soft. But we should have temporary aggregate into the driveways in the coming weeks, then we’ll replace it with concrete or asphalt.”

Meanwhile, Bartlett said she and her neighbors have helped each other get through the construction faults the best they can, but City Hall and Ward County haven’t appeared to be too concerned about proprety owners living along Sixth Street and dealing with the mud, the ruts and major inconveniences.

“In my opinion, everybody lost on that street,” Bartlett said. “And taxes went up because of that road.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!