LETTER TO THE EDITOR City Manager: St. Cloud has proven to be accountable

  • Bill Sturgeon
    Bill Sturgeon

No matter the size of a municipality, running a city is complicated and requires a team of individuals who are knowledgeable and always willing to do what needs to be done in critical moments.

It is certainly every resident’s right to express dissatisfaction or frustration when things aren’t running smoothly and even when they are. Everyone who works in local government understands that. What is disheartening is when the airing of those opinions is based on conjecture, rumor and in disregard of facts.

Currently the city is addressing two issues that have rightfully attracted significant public attention. Those issues include troubles with the city’s water system, along with the recent collapse of a pipe at Old Canoe Creek Road.

Both events have generated great inconvenience to residents. The city’s duty is to respond rapidly, identify the issue and resolve the matter as quickly as possible. Sometimes issues cannot be fixed in a matter of hours. That’s the reality of life.

The city has been forthcoming about the complexities associated with both issues. We have proven to be accountable; we listen and we understand the frustrations. Specifically, we have been working aggressively to resolve the discolored water and sediment that some residents have been experiencing, resulting from a failure of polishing filters at the main water treatment plant. Replacing the polishing filters, which capture and remove resin particles, has been completed; new filters are operational. We have also activated a flushing process and notify residents in advance so they can prepare for the momentary discolored water that results.

In December, the City Council approved “ice pigging” an innovative process that pushes ice through the water lines to capture and remove the residue once and for all. Ice pigging has proven successful in other communities.

Meanwhile, immediately after the pipe break on Dec. 18, at Old Canoe Creek and Neptune Road, the city’s Public Works department secured the area and began an assessment of the event. Despite rumors about causes, city engineers confirmed that the issue was a pipe collapse, not a sinkhole. Comments that the city has ignored repairing the site over the holidays are baseless. It is wrong to conclude that because no one is on the site that nothing is happening. Progress had been slowed due to difficulties in acquiring a replacement pipe due to the unique size of 9 feet; they’re too large to keep in inventory so a replacement had to be special ordered. This week, crews have begun repairing of the pipe and the surrounding areas that were impacted. We anticipate this project to be complete (weather permitting) by the end of February. Rerouting traffic continues to be adjusted regularly to minimize congestion. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but there simply is no alternative.

As the City Manager, my responsibility is to ensure that all aspects of this p ublic organization run smoothly and properly. In a perfect world, nothing would go wrong. But in the real world, where we all live, stuff happens. I am accountable and when problems arise, this City responds quickly, properly and effectively. I am proud of how St. Cloud employees have stepped up to be responsive as well as problem solvers in relation to issues that aren’t easily or quickly fixed.

Everyone at the City agrees that these issues are inconvenient and unpleasant. We accept the public’s criticisms; residents have that right.

My hope, however, is that residents can appreciate that the city’s employees have no interest in disregarding issues that occur; far from it. We will continue to work quickly and efficiently to ensure that when services go sideways, they are course corrected rapidly and correctly.

Bill Sturgeon
St. Cloud City Manager