GREG LOWER

Chanute city commissioners Monday evening held the first of what could be many discussions about improvements to the city’s 60-year-old water plant.

Commissioners met with engineer Daniel Coltrane of Midwest Engineering Group about a comprehensive plan for the city’s water plant. The commission could be looking at a construction cost of $14 million to $17 million, and City Manager Todd Newman said he would bring financing options back to the commission.

Coltrane is proposing a five-phase project for the water plant, which could be part of a larger comprehensive plan that would include the distribution system.

Replacing the full water treatment plant would cost up to $27 million, Coltrane said. Instead, he proposed replacing the frontend and back of the system, while keeping the building and filters.

Coltrane said that the plant has good bones and a value of $10 million that could carry over to the new system. The goal is to get a 75-year life expectancy.

“That would be the equivalent of a new plant,” he said.

The city might face mandates from the Environmental Protection Agency to implement standards dating back to the 1980s. An area of Kansas City is already facing mandates.

“The 17 (million dollars) is going to take care of what we’re scared of right now,” Newman said.

A majority of the structure is concrete and steel, which have been affected less by price fluctuations from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coltrane said the commission will have to make decisions down the line about the distribution system. About 28 percent of the system is plastic and 72 percent is cast. He said the overall total upgrade could be up to $50 million.

Construction would not start until July 2023. Some of the discussion included storage that could provide 14 million gallons of water in case of emergency, such as contamination of the river-water supply. Coltrane said 14 million gallons could last two weeks, or one week in the summer without water restrictions.

During a downtown fire last month at Playmakers, the city’s water system came very close to running out, Assistant City Manager Ryan Follmer said.

Commissioner Sam Budreau said he wants to see an increased capacity for emergencies and growth.

“It’s best to take care of it now than bandage it,” Mayor Jacob LaRue said.

Commissioners also gave approval to apply for cost-share funds for improvements to the intersection of 21st Street and Plummer Avenue.

Newman said that a previous grant application was turned down, although the city came very close to receiving funding. Under a proposed design by TranSystems, the city would pay $315,000, which is a 25 percent match. The rest would be provided by the state.

The project does not yet involve Neosho County funding, although the area is outside of city limits. The application is due Sept. 24.

“I would like to see the county step up to the plate, but I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Budreau said. “I would like to be wrong.”

In other business, commissioners approved 2022 fire protection contracts with Tioga, Big Creek and Canville townships to include a 2.5 percent increase in fees. Fire Chief Kevin Jones said the rate of runs to rural areas has not had a lot of change.

Commissioners approved an amendment to a 2017 series of bonds for Orizon Aerostructures. The bonds were originally issued for Orizon’s facility west of 21st and Plummer, and the amendment adds a building at 615 W. Cherry that has been deeded to Orizon.

Commissioners also approved a request to allow alcohol to be served at a wedding event at Highland Park and approved a cereal malt beverage license for K’s Place, 5 E. Main. 

Newman said the city has received $7,000 worth of software that will allow the city to send utility bills by email.

 

 

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