Rouman Amusement now suing city over flooding during Streetscape work
BY KEVIN BONESKE
After having provided a dumpster to help with the cleanup of the State Theater at 110 N. Brown St., where flooding was reported last summer while work on Rhinelander’s downtown Streetscape project took place, a higher-than-expected expense has been incurred to do that along with the city now being named as a party in a lawsuit, public works director Tim Kingman reported at Monday’s city Water/Wastewater Committee meeting.
“We didn’t expect the bill to run up as far as it has,” said Kingman, who noted the dumpster remained outside the building for cleanup longer than he expected. “We now have a $3,500 expense to have a dumpster out there for this time.”
Rouman Amusement brought the suit after the vacant theater building experienced what property owner George Rouman stated to the committee in November was a “tremendous amount of flooding” in the rear basement while the construction was going on nearby.
At that meeting, Kingman pointed out water produced by a big rain storm had gotten into the back side of the theater.
After the flooding occurred, Kingman said the city and the contractor were at the theater to document what happened. However, he noted each one of the insurance agents involved in the matter favored denying the claim.
Rouman told the committee the theater was unable to have the related cleanup covered by its own insurance company, which claimed a “technical exemption” for flooding that the theater didn’t have insurance. He said price quotes he obtained to remedy the related damage came to more than $100,000.
At Monday’s meeting, Kingman said paying for the dumpster could be construed as accepting responsibility for the damages now that the city is a party in the lawsuit.
“You want to do a good deed, but you don’t want to commit that the city was at fault – not for what they did, but for doing a good deed,” added committee member Mark Pelletier.
In the event the city would no longer be part of the lawsuit, Pelletier said whoever would be responsible for the damages to the theater could end up having to repay the city for the use of the dumpster.
Interim city administrator Keith Kost suggested having city attorney Carrie Miljevich contact the city’s insurance company representative as to how to proceed.
Committee members took no action at Monday’s meeting when they agreed to get more information and possibly have the matter decided by the full City Council at its March 13 meeting.