Sixth Street Ditch residents fight compensation for project

City Council
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     While it wasn’t on the agenda during the May 7 Monticello City Council meeting, some city residents approached the council regarding the Sixth Street Ditch project.

     The contention lies in whether those residing along the Sixth Street Ditch should be expected to financially contribute toward the project, which has been numerous years in the making. Now that the city has the dimensions for the easements needed for the project, City Administrator Doug Herman said next steps are in place. Those will involve an attorney on the city’s behalf speaking with those affected and who own property along the ditch.

     Keith and Janice Tackett maintained that the issues along the ditch are not the problem of the residents who lives there, but a citywide problem.

     “It is a problem for the city and we all pay taxes to take care of problems that are a part of the city,” said Keith. “We repair streets. We repair sewers. Even though I don’t live in those areas, I’m expected to pay taxes for the support and upkeep of my community. I expect it with the Sixth Street Ditch. It is a city problem.”

     Keith also asked if the residents sign off on the easements, does that mean the city has the authority to do what it wants with the property and ditch, including paying for the project. Herman answered that the city has the right to condemn the easement, but the city would likely not take ownership of the property.

     As far payment for the project, Herman reiterated that the council’s last stance was to enter into a cost share with the affected residents.

     “That’s the last word from the council, that there will be an expectation of some amount of payment, but that hasn’t been decided,” said Herman. “I don’t think the council has ever talked about assessing anybody a specific number. While the council has said there should be some cost share, I don’t think it’s ever gone beyond that general statement.”

     While the cost share option was discussed months ago, Keith said, “I was hoping common sense and reason would come into play with the council and obviously it hasn’t.”

     The Tackets and Bud Coyle stressed that the issues associated with the Sixth Street Ditch stem from further development throughout the city, and not just because of those who reside along the ditch.

     “The problems with that ditch happened a long time ago,” said Keith. “And it’s just progressed and sewer water has been rerouted to that ditch and the erosion has gotten worse and worse. The individual persons living along that ditch should not be responsible for taking care of a problem that was not created by us living there.”

     Keith threw $20,000 as a figure he’d be expected to pay, of which the council negated.  “I will not pay that,” he said. “I’m wanting to retire and I’m not wanting that kind of bill facing me at my age because I did not create this problem.”

     Council member Dave Goedken asked if it wasn’t the Tacketts’ problem, then whose problem is it. And if the previous owner of all of those affected properties knew the ditch was an issue, it’s not the city’s fault that information was not divulged upon the sale of the property.

     “It was there long before I bought the property. It was a problem with the previous owner,” shared Kaith.

     “Then buyer beware,” said Goedken.

     Janice Tackett asked if that was the case, then should residents in California live near the potential mudslides. Should residents in Hawaii live near the volcanoes? “What about the volcanoes in Hawaii? No one should live on the Hawaiian islands because the volcanoes might erupt?”

     She said the city knew that this expansion was going to end up in the Sixth Street Ditch, and the city knew it was going to be a problem.

     “It is not our responsibility or the responsibility of anyone else who lives along the ditch,” added Janice. You can do whatever you want to fix it. But it is not our problem.”

     To that, Council member Johnny Russ replied, “Then we’ll just raise everybody’s taxes.”

     Goedken added, “We all know that every creek or stream is a natural storm drain. They all have been since the beginning of time.”

     Coyle said the ditch was not an issue when he moved to the neighborhood in the early 1960s. “We had very low water going through that ditch. You, the city, kept adding additions, and more water. And then you piped Seventh Street into the Sixth Street Ditch. Are the people who live on the ditch responsible for everyone else’s water? You tell me that? Are we responsible for the Goettsch Addition? Their water is dumping in there. Are we supposed to pay for that?”

     Keith inquired as to whether the residents could obtain legal counsel. Herman said if that was the route they wanted to go, it is up to the residents.

     “Those residents can then choose to visit with our attorney or they can hire an attorney and have their attorney deal with our attorney,” Herman said.



Subscriber Login