CROWN POINT — The $15 million in improvements to the city's water system is wrapping up the first phase and ready to begin the next phase when the weather allows in the spring.
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety recently awarded a contract to Thieneman Construction Inc. for $5.1 million to build a secondary water storage tank at Kaiser Park along with the accompanying controls and pump work. The city had to get permission from the state Revolving Loan Fund to finance the project, said Al Stong, president of Commonwealth Engineers Inc., the city's design consultant on the project.
Stong said the project was estimated to cost $4.7 million, but the three bids received were all over that amount, including one almost $3 million higher. Stong blamed the busy construction market that is providing plenty of work for contractors, so they can pick and choose the jobs they want. He said Thieneman was a little hungrier than the other two.
The city started planning for this work four years ago and had intended to do it all at once, but the state loan fund set a limit of $7.5 million on loans a year ago because of so many applications. The city was forced to break it up into three phases in order to take advantage of the fund's 2% interest rate. Any amounts over the limit had to pay 3.5 % interest, and the city wanted to save the taxpayers as much as they could.
Stong said the loan fund set a $5 million limit on the loans this year, but, after all the bids exceeded the engineer's estimate, the city requested an exemption. Stong said the loan fund agreed to allow the city to borrow up to an additional $400,000 and still qualify for the low rate.
The city will go through the loan process again at the same time next year to finance the third and final phase, which is estimated to cost $3 million. That work includes a chemical dosing station, booster stations, a bulk water filling station and miscellaneous controls. It is scheduled to be done in 2021.
The first phase, due to be completed by the end of the year, included a new water main, looping some lines to improve fire protection, replacing some smaller lines with larger ones, also for improving fire protection, installing a second storage tank at 96th Place and rehabilitating the three existing elevated tanks.
"The improvements we are doing now should enable the city to meet its needs for 20 years into the future," Stong said.
He said spreading the work out over three years so far has not resulted in higher costs caused by inflation.
In another matter, the fire department also got approval for a contract to have a Safe Haven Baby Box installed at a location to be announced later. Mayor David Uran said the baby box is being financed by a private donation, and it will allow a person to leave an unwanted newborn in the box anonymously so a loving home can be found for it.