After agreeing two weeks ago that the city should build a new water plant instead of refurbishing the existing one, Vandalia aldermen on Tuesday approved the first step toward that goal.
The council unanimously approved an agreement with Milano and Grunloh Engineers of Effingham for engineering services for a new plant.
The contract calls for the engineering work to begin immediately, with the initial work to include teaming with the South Central Illinois Regional Planning and Development Commission in an effort to secure funding assistance from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development; preparing a preliminary engineering report and environmental report; working on land and easement acquisition or option to purchase land; and submitting an application for Economic Development Administration funding assistance.
James Patrick of SCIRPDC told city officials during Tuesday’s meeting that at an EDA representative plans to come to Vandalia to meet with Mayor Rick Gottman and City Administrator LaTisha Paslay to talk about possible funding for the project.
That does not ensure that the EDA will help fund the project, Patrick said, but the fact that a representative is willing to come to Vandalia is a positive sign.
The following steps include:
• January 2019-January 2020 – Filing permit applications.
• February-March 2020 – Advertise for bids.
• March 2020 – Open bids.
• April 2020 – Preconstruction conference and getting notice to proceed.
• June 2021 – Substantial completion.
• September 2021 – Final completion.
“It’s a pretty aggressive schedule,” Mayor Rick Gottman said, “but that’s the way we want it.”
Through the agreement, the city will be paying up to $872,000 for basic engineering services and up to $572,000 for resident project observation.
The council approved the engineering agreement after hearing their options from Lee Beckman of Milano and Grunloh during a work session on Aug. 20.
Those options include upgrading the existing water plant, which was built in 1951 and can pump up to 1.125 million gallons per day.
Beckman estimated that an upgrade to the current plant, which would address existing issues and allow the city to pump up to 2.5 million gallons of water a day, would cost about $15.5 million.
The only problem with that option, Beckmen told aldermen, is that the city would still have a water plant that is about 70 years old.
Disadvantages to an upgrade include: a facility that is less reliable than a new one; the city’s high-pressure zone would still be required; and the amount of land available in that area for an expansion.
“If you have a 70-year-old car, it’s time to get a new one,” Beckman told aldermen at the Aug. 22 work session.
The options for a new plant include one that can pump up to 1.5 million gallons per day, at an estimated cost of about $16 million, and one that can pump up to 2.5 million gallons for $21,108,900.
Funds that the city could apply toward the construction of a new water plant would include those generated through the local sales tax. The city is asking local residents to approve in November an increase of one-half of 1 percent in that tax.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the council gave the go-ahead for a number of sidewalk replacements.
Using up to $30,000 and Tax Increment Financing funds budgeted for the work, the city will make the improvements in the following areas:
• 310 N. Eighth St., 10 feet.
• 618 N. Eighth St., 60 feet.
• 722 N. Eighth St., 10 feet.
• 904 N. Eighth St., 9 feet.
• 1004 N. Eighth St., 150 feet.
• 726 W. Fillmore St. (Holy Cross Lutheran), 20 feet. (TIF funds)
• Eighth and Fillmore streets, ADA ramp. (TIF funds)
• 1118 N. Eighth St., 180 feet (TIF) Funds.
• Eighth and School streets ADA ramp, 150 feet.
• Eighth and Jefferson streets, ADA ramp.
The city will also use TIF monies for 200 feet of sidewalk in the 300 and 400 blocks of Kennedy Boulevard and 100 feet in the area of 229 W. Madison St.
City Administrator LaTisha Paslay told aldermen that she and Public Works Director Marlin Filer met with Jim Closson of Illinois Municipal League Risk Management to determine which sidewalks to replace each year.
Closson recommended that the city start with sidewalks by schools, then do ones based on citizen complaints and then look at the general list compiled by the city.
The improvements approved by the council on Tuesday fall under the first category, as well as the three improvements funded with TIF monies.
Also on Tuesday:
• The council observed a moment of silence for U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and played a recording of McCain’s last words written statement that he prepared.
• The council voted to drop the number of Class E liquor licenses from nine to eight.
The decrease is due to the fire that destroyed Capitol View Steakhouse in June.
If the owners of the restaurant decide to rebuild, they can apply for a Class E license.
Dennis Grubaugh, owner of the building at the northeast corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Gallatin Street, informed city officials that there are plans for a Mexican restaurant at that location and that the operator will be applying for a liquor license.
• The council approved a lease agreement with Pitney Bowes for a postage machine at a cost of $107.42 a month.
• The council approved an ordinance prohibiting the use of groundwater as a potable water supply by the use of installation or use of potable water supply wells at 1502 N. Eighth St. and a similar ordinance at the right of way on North Eighth St. south of Veterans and north of Gochenour Street.