Board seeks new options for utilities storage

The Utilities Commission agreed Thursday to have an engineering firm prepare options for construction of a steel storage building on city property off of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Show us what we can do,” Commission Chairman Bob Hodgson said.

The utilities department for many years has used a section under the Cranmer bridge on West State Street to store pipe fittings, valves, fire hydrants and other supplies, but when the state tears the deck off next year to replace it, everything will have to be moved.

The storage under the bridge covers 4,800 square feet and during last month’s meeting, Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart suggested looking at a previous proposal secured several years ago for a possible 1,500-square-foot storage building. The city already has two other smaller buildings the utilities department uses on the property, along with a third building used as headquarters for the city electrician.

Last month the commission asked for proposals for a larger building to replace the space lost to the bridge project. Weingart and assistant Superintendent Matt Hoopes proposed a building 60 feet by 60 feet which would give them 3,600 square feet of space, with enough room for a truck and tractor to pull through to load up equipment.

Commission member Bennie Funderburg pointed out they had talked about having a staging area in the building where they could do some work inside in the winter time and questioned whether there would be enough room. Weingart suggested using another one of the buildings for staging, noting that if they used the building for a work space, they would have to include heating and air conditioning.

Both Funderburg and Hodgson stressed they don’t want to put up a new building that’s undersized.

Commission member Tim Weingart asked if they could attach the new building project with an existing building to save money, but Hoopes said they would then have to meet new codes for the whole building.

The commission agreed to seek engineering to get the process going, asking that representatives of Howells & Baird and Butler Buildings (Witmer Construction) attend the next meeting.

In a water hauling matter, the commission agreed to adjust the rates for water sold at any water filling station approved by the water department to $5 per 1,000 gallons with a required minimum purchase of 4,000 gallons. The current rates were $3.05 per 1,000 gallons plus a $50 per day set-up fee. There’s a water fill station at the wastewater treatment plant. Don Weingart suggested the action to balance the cost between small water haulers who only haul one to two loads per day and the larger haulers who haul several loads per day. He’s hoping this can cut down on the number of trips small haulers make to buy small amounts.

In other business, the commission:

– agreed to have the Burgess & Niple engineering firm prepare painting cost estimates to paint the lime storage silo at the water treatment plant

– approved the purchase of a replacement generator and two soft start units for $19,990 for the North Ellsworth Sewage Pumping Station installed in 1974. The existing generator motor failed and can’t be repaired and no replacement motor is available.

– learned a temporary sludge thickening unit will be leased for three months during the wastewater treatment plant upgrade due to the plant being unable to handle the volume of sludge being produced with parts of the plant out of order.

– heard updates on the East 12th Street water line replacement project, the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and the Stewart Road circulation project, which may not cost as much as they thought due to another change in the plans.

The next meeting of the commission is set for 4 p.m. June 12.