By Katie Dahlstrom
The city of Clinton is considering covering more than $10,000 in bills relating to water damage at Ashford University Field.
LumberKings General Manager Ted Tornow submitted to the city bills related to repairing damage April flooding caused to some offices and other areas at the stadium. The area experienced significant rainfall in April, prompting the city to put the flood gates in place as prescribed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Interim City Administrator Jessica Kinser contends the stadium flooding was caused by seepage from a catch basin into the office areas. The city is not liable for the damage to the stadium caused by seepage; the city owns the stadium and rents it to the LumberKings, Kinser explained.
According to information submitted by Tornow, the stadium flooding happened the day before the flood gates were installed. He questioned the city's policy to determine when the gates should be installed and argued that the flooding was not a result of seepage, but a "backwash" of the system.
While the cause of the flooding and therefore the city's liability is in debate, members of the city's Internal Operations Committee during their Tuesday meeting recommended covering bills from the cleanup, which total $10,300.
The city would pay the bills using Vision Iowa surcharge funds in the stadium account.
At-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf moved to cover half of the cleanup costs, but Ward 4 Councilman Paul Gassman and At-large Councilman John Rowland did not support her motion. Instead, Gassman and Rowland moved to pay the entire bills related to cleanup.
Committee members chose not to cover the $6,800 in estimated costs for new vinyl composition tile in offices, the gift shop and the umpire's room.
All agreed that the city should investigate how to stop reoccurring flooding at the field. The city has paid for cleanup costs because the same areas suffered more than $3,000 in water damage in 2011. Similar flooding also happened in 2008.
"In the future, you need to say, 'we're not going to do this.' Even though it was past practice, in the future, we're not going to be doing this kind of thing," Gassman said to Kinser.
In 2011, the city submitted the bills to the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, but the claims were denied.
Julie Bray, the city's insurance agent, said preventive measures should be taken to thwart future flooding. A similar recommendation was made by David Dechant, with HDR Engineering, in 2011.
During a 2011 City Services Committee meeting, Dechant suggested the city work with LumberKings officials to create a flood mitigation plan. However, Tornow, in an e-mail to city staff, said no such plan was ever conceived.
City Services Committee members at their next meeting will address the flood mitigation plan as well as procedures for putting in the flood gates in order to minimize future water damage to the stadium.
The $10,000 in bills will move forward to the committee of the whole.