From our point of view, the City is able to repair the station with the currect access, but they are delaying repair of the station at this time because they first want to obtain an excessive amount of private land for the road.
I would like to respond to Mr. Van Dee’s statements in your news article, “Neighbors oppose Twin Oaks Lift Station road in Lake Ozark,” December 11, 2017 and add some background information.
1. Mr. Van Dee has not been clear regarding the circumstances for which the City was fined. The consent judgment and fines levied on the City in 2007 were not just for the sewer spill (which occasionally happens), but also for the City's failure to report the spill(s)—a criminal conviction.
2. Mr. Van Dee states that the City may need to access the station within minutes or an environmental emergency may occur. The stations are designed and equipped to avoid to this need – they have two pumps, automatic backup power sources, remote controls, and extra storage. I have been unable to find out the current condition and design of this station due to difficulty getting records from the City.
3. Mr. Van Dee states that he does not want to contaminate the lake. From our point of view, the City is able to repair the station with the currect access, but they are delaying repair of the station at this time because they first want to obtain an excessive amount of private land for the road. Thus, they are prioritizing the convenience of a difficult to construct and little-used road to the station over the importance of repairing the station to protect public health.
4. Mr. Van Dee states that it’s a safety concern and the public health could be at stake. The 2010 Sanitary Sewer Study report, which they are supposed to be following, shows that this station (S-3) does not need any repairs, i.e. no access road needed.
The City’s reasons for wanting the road have continually changed over time: Earlier documents show that the road was planned simply to access the station with larger equipment and slightly reduce the grade. (Memo from Ryan Fuller to City, August 20, 2015)
Another reason the City stated for the road was that they need drivable access just to get down there to make the repairs. (Matt Michalik, May 9, 2017 Board meeting audio). (Note: A contractor could perform this job.)
As we questioned these reasons, the City changed them to Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) regulations, safety and public health.
5. Mr. Van Dee refers to a concrete walkway. It is an access road or access ramp and is made for hauling equipment up and down, such as with a tow truck cable or small utility vehicle. The City does not want to consider using worker safety lifting equipment and training their staff.
6. Mr. Van Dee minimizes the impact to the adjoining properties. The road design provided to the property owners showed that the easements requested were actually 110 feet wide at the top of the ridge, where the road turns off Red Oak Drive, and 70 feet wide next to the pump station.
Over 400 dump truck loads of dirt would have to be moved to cut back the hillside. Then 630 tons of rocks would have to be placed along the creek bank, all the way to the lake, just to support their road. Building such a road (which would actually be nicer than the subdivision roads on either side of it) is certainly overkill, and its impact on the environment and our property values is not minimal.
7. The City was applying for the State Revolving Funds (SRF) at the time they were seeking easements from us subjecting the road to environmental review requirements. When the MoDNR required the City to perform the review in response to my letter to them, the City refused and removed the request for funds for this station’s repairs and road from their SRF application package. The environmental review would have provided for alternatives, cost-benefit analysis, and public comment.
8. Due to lack of straight answers from the City, we have had to hire our own engineer to review the plans and determine if the current access is adequate to complete the planned repairs and maintain the station for the future. Our engineer determined that the access was adequate, the station could be repaired and several viable alternatives existed. We are asking the City to engineer the station and access to mitigate for their concerns, save public funds, and to preserve our property.
9. The City’s engineering consultant agreed that it was “technically feasible” to repair the station with the existing access, however, due to MoDNR regulations, a road was going to be installed anyway and alternatives were not going to be considered.
10. The City simply does not want to dedicate the amount of effort required to utilize an alternate form of access in order to preserve our neighborhood. Perhaps they could even contract out the maintenance and response needed for this station. They seem to prefer to go into debt (Nov. 14, 2017 Board packet, City Administrator’s report on Resolution 2017R-44) and spend $300,000 in public funds (Cost Estimate August 7, 2015) than use alternate methods for this one station.
11. The MoDNR regulations are guidelines and allow deviations with sufficient justification. The same regulations were in effect in 1988, when the pump station was originally built and approved by MoDNR.
12. The planned road does not meet MoDNR's all-weather access road requirements. Due to the steep hairpin turn at 25% grade, it will be inaccessible during portions of the winter. It also does not meet the City’s sewer design guide, requiring grades for access roads to be less than 10%.
13. The City’s maintenance records for this station over the last nine years show:
a. A pump was changed at the station only one time.
b. Staff went to the station an average of only three times per year.
14. The City continues to refuse engagement in any discussions to address our concerns and assess viable alternatives to this access road. Since publication of your article, I have attempted to contact the city aldermen (my elected officials) and have been informed that all communication must now go through the City attorney—a move which has effectively cut off communication with the elected officials.