The high cost of the cold: Council hears update on frozen pipes

HOUGHTON – The number of frozen pipes in Houghton are well ahead of where they would be in a normal winter, Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

The city has 109 water faucet let-runs, Zenner said. There are also 49 frozen pipes, more than double the average amount.

“We’ll have 10, 15, 20, in any given winter,” Zenner said.

So far, there have been eight pipes crews haven’t been able to thaw.

There are four companies working on thawing out pipes, he said.

Zenner urged residents to be patient.

“I know it’s a bad winter and the frost is deep,” Zenner said Wednesday. “It’s been 12 years since a deep freeze like this.”

In an interview last week, Zenner recommended people let their water run, make sure their basements are heated, and make sure the area above their pipes is insulated.

In other action, the council:

approved a sewer agreement with Franklin Township for the Paavola area.

heard a report from Police Chief John Donnelly. In the past two weeks, there had been 240 calls, nine misdemeanors, 11 civil infractions and two city tickets. The city’s new patrol car is on the road; all vehicles now have the same set-up.

heard a report from downtown business consultant Susie Landers. A chainsaw sculptor was a big hit over Winter Carnival. The cardboard sled contest will take place this weekend. The Yummy Bar, a new candy shop in the downtown, was scheduled to open Friday but will open later. Two businesses for sale have potential buyers. Another one is ready to go, but is waiting to locate a spot.

accepted the Planning Commission annual report. Top accomplishments for the past year included adopting the master plan and the five-year recreation and natural resource plan.

scheduled budget work sessions for April 16, April 30, May 7 and May 21. All sessions will start at 5 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

introduced a proposed ordinance amending the city’s ordinance regarding the Planning Commission. The ordinance would require a majority of the total seats for the Commission, regardless of vacancies or absences, to adopt or amend the master plan, or to recommend a proposed zoning ordinance.

approved a split of Lot 9 of Woodhaven Estates, giving the south 30 feet to Lot 10.

approved the water fund deficit elimination plan.

designated City Manager Eric Waara as authorized official for Department of Natural Resources recreation grants.