Contractors unload soil from a sewer project to build a sledding hill Friday, July 22, 2016 at Smiths Creek Community Park on Henry Street in Smiths Creek. (Photo: JEFFREY M. SMITH, TIMES HERALD)The heat index is approaching 100 degrees, but Kimball Township is thinking snow.Forced to clean up leaky septic systems with a new sanitary sewer project, the township is turning the spoil into a sledding hill.The hill is growing because of the $1.2 million sanitary sewer project started this past spring that will allow Smiths Creek residents to tap into the township’s sewer system.Nearly four miles of a sanitary sewers have been constructed along Smiths Creek Road, allowing 36 residences to hook up to the sewer system.The project was sparked by letters sent to the township from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality with concern about potential contamination in that area because of failed septic systems leaking sewage.Kimball Township Supervisor Rob Usakowski said the project is nearly 75 percent done and has resulted in a sledding hill.“In our strategic plan that we did two years ago one high priority that people had was that they wanted to see a sledding hill,” Usakowski said. "But the cost and location were always concerns for us.”But Jim Pieprzak, of TR Pieprzak in East China, who was contracted to do the sewer work, suggested that instead of hauling the excavated dirt from the sewer project away, that they could use it to build a sledding hill instead.Now this winter a sled hill will be at Smiths Creek Community Park near Smiths Creek Road and Henry Street.“It won’t cost us anymore,” Usakowski said. “Part of their contract for work was to haul out the dirt, but instead they will use those hours and their equipment to build and shape the hill.”
Usakowski said he is not yet sure how tall the hill will be, but depends on how much total dirt is excavated.
“I think during the winter months our parks are pretty much shut down,” he said. “This gives people a chance to come out to the parks and have an activity to do now.”
As for the sewer project, Usakowski said the majority of the work will be completed by August, with some restoration work to continue after that.
“There are still a couple spots on Main Street and Henry Street where they still need to run sewer lines,” he said. “People will still see lots of spots torn up along the side of the road and construction equipment sitting about.”
Usakowski said the innovative idea will be a great thing for the community, especially since there is no added cost to complete the project.