Mayer examines algae issue

By Lorrie Ham

The Mayer City Council heard a report from the city engineer on the causes and possible solutions to algae build up in the city’s storm water ponds at the July 8 council meeting. Residents with a storm water pond behind their home brought the situation to the city’s attention and prompted the study.
City Engineeer Dave Martini said the ponds were doing their job of collecting nutrients and restricting flow of storm water into nearby lakes and rivers. Contributing factors to the algae are sludge buildup, stagnation, hot temperatures, decaying yard waste and sunny weather, he explained.
Taking the opportunity for some public education, Martini said that all of the runoff from chemical yard treatments contributes to the algae growth.
“These are holding ponds,” he said. “They are meant to prevent the runoff from getting into public waters – they’re not meant as amenities.”
Martini did have some solutions for the problem, but cautioned the city about taking responsibility for regular treatments of the ponds. “There are lots of ponds within the city,” he said.
Maintaining and cleaning the ponds do need to happen occasionally – every 15-20 years or so, said Martini. The city council should consider budgeting for dredging of the ponds over the next few years, he suggested.
In the meantime, residents can get some suggestions from the city on handling the algae growth on their own.
In another matter, councilmember Tice Stieve-McPadden presented the council with letters from residents and over 100 signatures on a petition in favor of restrooms at Old Schoolhouse Park.
Stieve-McPadden, who serves as the council liaison to the park commission, said she was bringing the matter back to the city council after meeting with some residents who had previously been opposed to the project and now changed their minds and signed the petition.
At an earlier meeting this year, a park board proposal to accept a quote of $55,000 to fund the restroom project failed at the city council level on a split 2-2 vote with one council member absent. The council members who voted against the proposal said they did so due to lack of community support for the project.
Stieve-McPadden said the contractor who originally put in the bid for the project was “no longer interested in working with the city.” Stieve-McPadden said that Rod Maetzold, the city’s fire chief and owner of a lumber yard, had offered to draw up plans for the project.
“I thought this had been put to bed for now,” said Mayor Mike Dodge. “But it’s fine to bring it back if something has changed.”
“We have a community who wants to see this happen,” said Stieve-McPadden. “They know we have the money set aside and they expect to see some action.”
In discussing where restrooms would be located within the park, the possibility of moving the existing public works building in the middle of the park also came up.
“I just want to make sure that the plan would work with the overall future plans for the park as well,” said Councilmember Bruce Osborn, adding that the building specs and materials list for the project would need to be clearly spelled out.
Councilmember Daniel Lueth felt that there were several items to consider when talking about improvements at the park. “I hear from residents who want a pool,” he said. That issue had been researched in the past few years and was put aside due to prohibitive cost, according to City Administrator Luayn Murphy. She will provide a report at an upcoming council meeting.
City Engineer Dave Martini was on hand and suggested that the council consider having a survey done and a site plan prepared.
Lueth felt that they should slow things down and look for a possible spring construction. “Talking about some of these issues would alleviate some of my concerns,” he said.
The park board was scheduled to meet again July 9.