Crews repair pipe break inside former Kelley house

Sam Fosness, The Daily Republic, Mitchell, S.D.
·4 min read

Mar. 2—The brief cold snap Mitchell experienced a little over a week ago caused a pipe to break inside the multimillion-dollar home that the city owns near Lake Mitchell.

During the cold stretch that brought subzero temperatures to the area, Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson said a single pipe broke in the home, formerly known as the Kelley property. However, Everson said the pipe break was quickly discovered, allowing crews to repair the issue.

Since the city purchased the 10,095-square-foot home in 2019 solely to acquire the 371 acres of land it came with near Lake Mitchell, the Parks and Recreation Department has been maintaining the property, including the now vacant house, on a daily basis.

"We were keeping the temperatures down a bit at a warm enough level in the house since nobody is occupying it, but cold air made it inside a small fraction of the house through a small crack that has now been fixed," Everson said in an interview with the Mitchell Republic. "The pipe that broke was right next to a floor drain, thankfully, so most of the water that came out of it drained. We have someone go out there every single day and check on the home, and city crews found it right away the next day and shut the water off."

Considering crews discovered the problem within 24 hours after it occurred, Everson the repair work was "very minimal." The repair work that amounted to a cost of roughly $8,500 consisted of replacing two floor tiles, fixing a small section of a wall near the pipe and drying and cleaning the area that experienced water leakage.

While the tile repair and pipe fix came in at a cost of just under $1,000, Everson said the clean up and drying phase was the priciest part of the repair work. To clean and dry the area where the pipe break occurred, Everson said it cost roughly $7,700 for Hohn's Carpet Cleaning.

"The pipe was repaired right away. There was no flooding of anything, but a portion of a wall got a little wet from the break," Everson said. "We had a ceramic tile expert come in and put the tiles back on, so it was professionally done. But the small area looks just as good it was before the break now, and the realtors are showing it again."

Although the home is insured as of now, the costs to repair the portion of the damage was too minimal to meet the deductible, Everson said. Therefore, the city will utilize contingency funds to pay for the repair work.

The city listed the $3.5 million home on the market three months ago, which includes about 10 acres of surrounding land and the nearby multipurpose shed. Roughly a month after it was listed on the market, the city received the first offer that came around $1 million, well below the $3.5 million asking price. As of lately, Everson said there's been a growing number of people interested.

To avoid any issues in the future, the Mitchell City Council approved updating the HVAC alert system inside the home during Monday's meeting. Everson said the HVAC alert system is "old" and needs updating. The installation of the new HVAC alert system will cost $19,000, which will be funded by utilizing emergency contingency funds.

"We want to update the control system now to prevent any pipe freezing in the future," Everson said.

When the city bought the home as part of the $4.1 million land purchase, the goal was to create a wetland on the acres of land it came with that sits along Firesteel Creek. The wetland — which is currently in the design phase — will serve as a natural filtration system to collect the large amounts of phosphorus and sediment that flow into Lake Mitchell through the creek.

Previous studies of the lake have indicated that 53 percent of the phosphorus entering into the lake is coming from Firesteel Creek, while 47 percent of it is in the lake itself. The phosphorus loads flowing into the lake from the creek largely contribute to the algae blooms each year, which is a main reason why the Mitchell City Council unanimously approved the land purchase.

Everson reiterated buying the home was not the intention of the $4.1 million land purchase. While Everson emphasized the purchase of the home was not ideal, he said it was the only way the city could acquire the land it came with for the wetland to be constructed along Firesteel Creek. The stipulation of buying the house was a condition set by the former homeowners.

"Everyone's goal is to see this beautiful property get sold. This minor problem will not have any impact on it being sold in the future," he said.