For the second time in two weeks, the Vandalia City Council voted on bringing a second engineering firm in to study the new Kaskaskia River water intake. And for the second time in two weeks, the proposal was rejected.
But support for that proposal, suggested by Alderman Chad Feldpouch, is growing.
Discussion on the river intake which has been inoperable for lengthy periods since its installation in 2004 was initiated on Monday night by Mayor Rick Gottman, who said he received some phone calls after the councils March 3 meeting.
At that meeting, a motion by Feldpouch to have a second engineering firm look at the intake died for lack of a second.
Gottman said hed gotten a call from a person who has experience with underwater welding, and another from an individual familiar with sand issues. One of the main problems with the intake has been sand clogging the intake.
The mayor said hed like these two people to talk with him and other city officials in the near future, to see if they might be able to offer any insight into the intake problems.
Alderman Larry Cable, chairman of the councils water and disposal plants committee, said hed met earlier in the day with representatives of HMG Engineers of Carlyle, the citys consulting engineers. Those engineers, Cable said, believe that the clogging of the intake may be due to holes on the mechanism being too small.
Feldpouch again voiced his desire to find a solution. My biggest concern is that weve spent $950,000 on it and we used it about three months (last summer).
Cable said the city has used the intake whenever the river level is low, and he agreed to get copies of water treatment plant logs that show when the intake has been used.
Aldermen Jerry Swarm, who joined Feldpouch and Mike Hobler in voting on Monday to bring in another engineering firm, said, I wish we would have done what was suggested two weeks ago.
When Alderman Barbie Elliott asked what he meant, Swarm said, Bring in another firm.
Feldpouchs motion failed in a 4-3 vote, with Elliott, Cable, Bret Brosman and Larry Bennett voting not to take that action. Lisa McNutt was not present for the meeting.
Brosman said that while he supports getting a second opinion, he wants to first hear from local residents who might be able to offer some help free of charge.
Cable and Public Works Director John Moyer said they believe that problems with the intake stem from the fact that the city, because of its use of a federal Environmental Protection Agency loan, was required to take the low bidder. That low bidder, they claimed, had never taken on such a project.
How much longer are you no votes willing to let this go on? Feldpouch said. I think its irresponsible, and we need to do something about it.
Hobler agreed, saying that he doesnt know whos at fault, but that he wants to listen to anyone who might have a solution.
I dont care if we go out and find three old river rats. They (HMG) are about out of hit-and-miss ideas.
Lets get somebody else, to see if they know how to fix it, Hobler said.
As the issue was discussed, Elliott told Feldpouch that she was getting the feeling that he has some general concerns about HMG.
Feldpouch confirmed that, noting that there have been problems arise on several recent issues. Gottman agreed, saying that there have been significant change orders on those projects.
In other action on Monday, Gottman referred to the councils streets and sewers committee a concern about the loss of parking voiced by the owners of the Redwood Inn.
Lisa and Albert Doyle told the council that in the process of tearing down buildings in the 100 block of West Gallatin Street and expanding its display lot, Arthur Young Inc. has taken away a parking area at the north end of the 200 block of South Second Street.
The Doyles said that while they arent willing to challenge the dealerships existing use of the right of way in that block, they dont want to see more public parking space taken away.
Moyer said those parking spaces were needed for businesses that were housed in the buildings that have been torn down, and since those businesses are gone, that parking is no longer needed.
I dont think there should be any parking there at all, Moyer said. Its city right of way.
Also at the meeting, Gottman told the council that he had been chosen to serve on the Illinois Tax Increment Association Board of Directors. He will take the seat that became vacate when the mayor of Collinsville died recently.