Sewage problem remains at senior center

MUCH WORK HAS been completed to address sewage problems at the Iron Mountain Senior Center, but officials say a lift station may still be needed. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Talks will continue as officials try to resolve sewage problems that surfaced in early November at the Iron Mountain Senior Center and are linked to a line shared with the neighboring Northern Lights YMCA.

Damaged pipes and other problems have been addressed at a cost of about $40,000 and the system functions for both facilities, but deficiencies remain.

At a special Dickinson County Board meeting Monday, discussions centered on the apparent need for a lift station to ensure there are no more sewage backups at the senior center, where the kitchen remains closed.

County Board Chairman Henry Wender said it will be up to the senior center and YMCA to come up with a solution — without the county’s financial help.

“We’re not involved,” he said.

The senior center at Crystal Lake is owned by the county, but upkeep and maintenance is the responsibility of the center’s site council, County Controller Brian Bousley said.

As it stands, there’s no agreement whether the senior center will pay the entire cost for work already completed, or how future expenses might be shared. It’s hoped the total bill will stay under $100,000, but no estimates have been offered.

The Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency relies on the Iron Mountain center to prepare home-delivered meals for about 200 clients. With its kitchen closed, meals are being prepared at the Breen Senior Center in Kingsford, which is too small for the task, said County Clerk Dolly Cook, who serves on the DICSA board.

“We have to get this fixed,” County Commissioner Joe Stevens said.

Coincidentally, the YMCA took ownership of its Crystal Lake facility from the county just before the sewage problems came to light. Previously, it had leased the building from the county for a token sum.

After a successful fundraising campaign, the YMCA plans to spend about $4 million on a renovation project. The former Crystal Lake Community Center now occupied by the YMCA was built about 45 years ago and was initially owned by the city of Iron Mountain.

During Monday’s discussion, the need for a lift station was traced, in part, to the YMCA’s sewer line being undersized and the shared connection to the city’s sanitary sewer on F Street lacking the proper pitch.

Although the county isn’t committing funding, Bousley will help coordinate attempts at a remedy.