By Pamela Rensing
MASCOUTAH – The Mascoutah City Council held their regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 15. The meeting was open to in-person and virtual participation.
During “Public Comments,” councilmen heard from homeowners in the Hunters Creek subdivision regarding sewage backflow problems. Homeowners, including former Mayor Jerry Daugherty and Assistant Fire Chief Rob Stookey, stated that sewage backflow entered homes during the historic rains a few weeks ago.
“We realize it’s a complex situation,” said resident Josh Mazander. “One gentleman had the problem four times in 14 years. I had it a couple of times. Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 gallons of sewage was in my house.”
Mazander added that it is harmful to families and erodes property values. “There must be opportunities for improvements. I’m asking the City to take a hard look at the problems we are having. See what options we have. A study was made a few years ago but I haven’t seen it.”
Jerry Daugherty said he was one of six or seven homes in that area experiencing this problem. “I’ve had sewage backup twice. Why did it happen to our place but not our neighbors? My house had raw sewage coming out of the shower drain.
“When you get eight inches of rain in such a short amount of time, I can understand there will be control problems.
“We are reaching out trying to find what is the possible cause of the problem. If we can fix it ourselves, we would like to know that too. We need to have ideas or find out from the experts.”
Rob Stookey told the council he was answering calls for the fire department when he received a message from his wife. “We’ve had this two times, the last was about seven years ago. I put a backflow preventor and maintained it, but there was so much pressure, the sewage worked its way around it. I don’t want to do it again.”
Before the council meeting, the City of Mascoutah had published a Facebook post regarding the problem. It offered information and tips to help prevent future sewer backups. It also stated: “Regardless of the age of your house, ALL sewer pipes eventually flow to the same sewer plant. While newer areas of town follow current rules regarding infiltration, inflow, and use PVC pipes, the older parts of Mascoutah still have clay pipes. Groundwater can penetrate clay pipes by seeping in through pipe connections or cracks. Again, during massive rain events, this leads to additional strain on the sewer system and causes backups, regardless of the age of the pipes or houses.
“To help with this, we check the sewer lines and repair them as needed when we do street projects. The City recently completed a study in the older parts of town that showed issues in several pipes. We have been lining those areas with a special material to help prevent infiltration into the pipes.”
Items on the agenda included:
• Councilmen approved the second reading to rezone Lakeside Estates LLC located on McKinley Street.
Lakeside Estates requested the rezoning on two properties totaling 0.35 acres to RM-Multiple Family Residential District. The intent is to build a 6-8 family town home building that will be used for rental purposes.
• Another second reading was approved for the rezoning of 76.35 acres of property located on North 6th Street. Fulford Home requested the rezoning to build a single-family home neighborhood called Glaeser Farm. 114 lots were proposed to be over 10,000 square feet, and 90 lots were proposed to be between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet.
• Report by Mascoutah Assistant Fire Chief Rod Stookey: The Mascoutah Fire Department was busy in July with several storms and flooding incidents.
The department has taken delivery of the new 3511 fire engine, although shelving and specialized equipment still needs to be installed at Sentinel in St. Louis County. The project is estimated to be completed in two to three weeks.
Most MFD personnel attended a IFSI class involving fire and rescue operations on electric and hybrid vehicles.
In an effort to comply with I-OSHA regulations, MFD is looking into updating its respiratory safety program and possibly providing annual physicals for its members.
• Report by Public Safety Director Scott Waldrup: The Mascoutah Police Department responded to 275 calls in July.
There were 13 accidents.
Officers issued 45 traffic citations, 64 warnings, and 7 parking violations.
There were eight arrests made in July.
The Mascoutah EMS Department responded to 123 calls in July.
Waldrup stated there were no problems at the Mascoutah Homecoming.
The Police Department will be adding two new hires at the end of the month.
• Report by Public Works Director Jesse Carlton: The Public Works Department completed 626 work order in July.
A few, but not all, work items by the Street Department included:
– The heavy rain event on July 26 caused blocked roads throughout town. The department assisted the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) in blocking state roads, and kept catch basins and ditches clean for water runoff.
-Sprayed for wasps under and around pavilions and bridge at the Reservoir.
-Cleaned problem area catch basins and ditches for heavy rain expected on August 3.
-Spread chips on oil bleeding roads caused from the recent high temperatures.
-Dura-patched areas throughout town listed on the upcoming oil and chip program.
A few, but not all, work items by the Water Department included:
-Monitored, pumped and inspected manholes, lift station pumps and storm water pumps throughout town during large rain event.
-Hydro excavated water lines on Lebanon St for lowering of water services.
-Relocated water services on Lebanon St for upcoming street project.
A few, but not all, work items by the Electric Department included:
-Repaired a broken arrestor on Rt. 4, north of Rt. 161.
-Installed several house services.
-Removed, repaired, and replaced malfunctioning fountain at the Reservoir.
-Replaced a blown transformer at Green and Jefferson Streets.
-Repair the electric line down from broken tree limb behind 300 block N. 5th St.
• Report from City Engineer Tom Quirk: Grading and aggregate base is complete for the walking trail for the Prairie Lakes Park Paving Project.
Construction of a new sidewalk at the intersection of Park Drive with N. 6th Street is substantially complete. The new sidewalk will provide a route for students walking from the middle school across N. 6th Street to continue west along Park Drive. Existing sidewalk that was in poor condition is also being replaced and the area is being graded so that storm water will drain across the new sidewalk to a new swale along Park Drive and out to the N. 6th Street sewer.
• Mascoutah City Manager Rebecca Ahlvin reported the City has been working to obtain funding for a proposed Splash Pad in Scheve Park. The project will consist of engineering and construction of a new Splash Pad, approximately 2,900 square feet in size, near the accessible parking spaces on Harnett Street. The existing restroom building will be retrofitted with a shower and changing room on each side.
The City was awarded a grant from the Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD). The grant will not exceed 40 percent of the eligible project cost nor will it exceed $100,000. The City will be required to fund 100 percent of the project prior to receiving MEPRD grant reimbursement.
According to Mayor Pat McMahan, the final cost is not known at this time.
• Council members approved the second reading of the ordinance for Food Truck Vendors.
The new ordinance treats the food truck license similar to a business license and allows more food trucks to operate within the City.
The fee for each food truck is $100 per year. Ice cream truck vendors will pay $50 per year.
The next Mascoutah City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 6, 7 p.m. at City Hall. The usual Monday schedule was changed due to the Labor Day holiday, Sept. 5.