Lowered street creates hurdles in Elkader

An Elkader sewer and water upgrade has lowered portions of Second Street 18 inches, creating a hurdle too high for some residents to get over.

The lowered street has rendered the parking lot of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church unusable, said George Leonard, chairman of the church’s building and grounds committee.

“The contractor kept saying it would be put back the way it was, that it would be the same grade, but it’s not back the way it was,” Leonard said.

Luke Donlon, of 314 Second Street SW, said his vehicles scrape whenever he tries to negotiate the 18-inch drop from his driveway to the street.

Worse, Donlon said he may have to lower his garage 18 inches to alleviate the problem.

“That would be something major – a huge expense,” he said.

Donlon said the house and garage were built in 1997 and are in excellent condition.

“It looks worse than it is,” City Administrator Jennifer Cowsert said Friday, asserting that only two property owners, the church and Donlon, have been “severely affected.”

Cowsert said the $961,000 project, funded largely by the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program, entailed the installation of lift stations and storm sewers on several streets near the Turkey River, which caused disastrous flooding in 2008.

In addition to the storm sewers, work on Second Street included installation of new water and sanitary sewer lines as well as paving.

In effect, “everything is new” on a two-block section of Second Street, she said.


Cowsert said the street had to be lowered to eliminate a hump that pooled storm water near the intersection of Second and Mechanic streets. With the hump removed, the street can function as an overflow when heavy rains overwhelm the storm sewer pipe, she said.

Cowsert said an accommodation has been worked out with the church in which local contractor C.J. Moyna will take over the driveway connections from the project’s main contractor, Skyline Construction Inc. of Decorah.

As part of that arrangement, company President John Moyna, a member of St. Joseph’s parish, has agreed to grade and repave the church parking lot to eliminate the dropoff between it and the street, according to Leonard.

Since the city will not provide any additional funding for that extra work, much of the Moyna company’s work will be a charitable donation, Leonard said.

Cowsert said the project engineer is “looking at options to ease Donlon’s situation.”

“Right now we can do the driveway so vehicles would not scrape, but the driveway would be steep,” she said.



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