City says welcome and thanks: Phase one of VC flood buyouts nearing completion

City officials welcomed the new and thanked the departing during their meeting Monday. Valley City’s new police chief Fred Thompson was present to meet the commissioners while they welcomed him to the city.

“We’re really, really happy to have Fred on board and part of the team,” said City Administrator David Schelkoph.

The commission also thanked Mark McDonald for stepping up and taking the interim police chief job at a difficult time.

“He did a stellar job,” City Commissioner Jon Wagar said.

The meeting began with a presentation to volunteer firefighter Bill Martin in recognition and gratitude of 40 years of service. He’s been on the Valley City Fire Department since 1969.

“We could depend on him rain or shine, blizzard or not,” Fire Chief Gary Retterath said.

Wagar said, “This is the best part of our job--when we get to say thank you.”

Wagar was thanked himself along with fellow commissioner George Dutton. Both commissioners’ terms are up for re-election this year and both have chosen not to re-run.

In appreciation of Wagar’s and Dutton’s years of service, there will be cake and coffee served prior to the next commission meeting June 18.

Phase I of the State Water commission floodway acquisition program, where the city is buying out property for permanent flood protection, is nearing completion. After some discussion, the city approved the appraised values on 14 properties in which an appraisal was requested.
The property owners could either take 110 percent of the city’s assessment offer or request an appraisal.

The appraisals were higher than initially expected, so to stay within budget, City Commissioner Matt Pedersen said the city has chosen to delay the purchase of three apartment buildings on Fourth Street. The delay will also avoid impacting Valley City’s housing shortage.

However, Pedersen said following a conversation this week, he feels comfortable that the city will be able to purchase the garages from Riverside Apartments, one of the apartment buildings the city has decided not to purchase for flood protection at this time.

Pedersen said the next step in Phase I is for these property owners to contact Russell Myhre, city attorney, to sign purchase agreements.

“At that point, we can firm up the potential closing dates, and then we have clarity on who’s for sure a part of this,” Pedersen said.

After this first phase of buyouts on Fourth and College Street, the city will likely continue to buy out the north end of Chautauqua Boulevard.
“Another area to consider is by Riverside Gardens,” Pedersen said.

In other flood business, city commissioners approved a preliminary engineering agreement with city engineering firm Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydraulic Analysis Feasibility Study, which works to provide permanent flood protection.

Phase I of the project will study the elevation of the Sheyenne River at different cross-sections throughout the community at different cubic feet per second flows.

Upon analysis of the hydrology and hydraulics, “That will start to tell us how high we might want to protect to,” Pedersen said.

In other business, Swanberg Construction, Inc. was awarded the bid for improving the Master Lift Station in southwest Valley City.

“We got a lot of miles on those lifts, but they’re just to the point now where they need to be replaced,” said Chad Petersen of KLJ.

During his report, Schelkoph said there was an error on the county notification of election order on the ballot for next Tuesday’s election. He said city officials picked the names out of a hat for the order on which the prospective commissioners would be on the ballot, but when the file was sent to the county, it wasn’t in the correct order.

Schelkoph said the problem has been corrected. “When it comes to the official ballot that everybody’s going to see, it will have the proper order,” he said.