VALPARAISO | Plans for a storm sewer connecting the retention pond behind the Willows Rehabilitation Center to the Thorgren basin had to be put on hold Tuesday.
Deputy City Engineer Adam McAlpine came to the city's Utilities Board to ask permission to seek bids for the project, which has been budgeted for $130,000.
McAlpine said, during heavy rains, the Willows pond overflows and runs west through property owned by Jim Harrington, including through a building used by Kent Heating, before crossing the road to the Thorgren basin.
It's been a problem for many years, and the city is committed to trying to fix it this year by grading the land around the Willows to direct the water to the pond and then through the 42-inch storm sewer to the Thorgren basin. Although the plans are ready, the city doesn't have an easement from the owner of the Willows for the storm sewer work.
McAlpine said he sent the company a letter about six months ago explaining the project and providing them with the easement papers. He recently contacted the property's maintenance person, who said the request was making its way up the corporate ladder and he would try to push for a response.
Utilities board members were concerned bids could be received and the contractor hired with no indication from the Willows on the easement. McAlpine said he's still getting easements for the Chautauqua Park stormwater relief project although work already is underway.
He said the project could be redesigned to direct the water along the property line to an inlet that would take it to the basin, but that would not be ideal. The board considered options of seeking bids contingent on getting the easement or delaying the start of construction for up to 60 days before it would have to be rebid.
On the recommendation of board attorney Mike Langer, the request was tabled while Langer writes to the Willows owners to try to expedite matters. It is hoped the city will get an answer in time to authorize bids in two to four weeks.