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Much prep work left for water projects

Monday, March 15, 2010

There is a lot of preparation left before the City of Brazil's water improvement projects begin.

On Monday, representatives from Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering (HWC), Terre Haute, Kenna Consulting and Management Group, Inc., Bingham McHale LLP, and Umbaugh and Associates, all of Indianapolis, met with city officials to provide an update on the process.

"Currently, we are waiting for the 30-day advertisement/public comment period to end, which should be April 4," Kenna Consulting representative Donna Anderson said. "After that, once the State Revolving Fund (SRF) approves the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER), the grant for the water projects may be submitted."

HWC Professional Engineer Matthew Pierce added the majority of the permits needed before the bid document completion have been obtained.

"We still need the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) construction permits," Pierce said. "We have been talking with the INDOT Crawfordsville District to make sure we have all the correct information included to avoid the possibility of a rejection and having to resubmit, which should save some time."

Pierce added the INDOT permit application should be submitted sometime this week, and the issuance of permits should not have any effect on the timing of grant or bid approval.

In order to do some of the projects, land acquisition is needed, which City Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens said has been going fairly well.

"Two of the five easements needed have been signed off on," Gibbens said. "Another two are close to being signed while we are meeting with a resident this week to hopefully obtain the fifth easement."

Umbaugh CPA Principal Doug Baldessari presented a financial analysis report which compared the current revenue and expenses for the Brazil Water Utility with the 2008 rate study.

"The comparison showed there has been about a $300,000 increase in operating expenses since the 2008 study," Baldessari said. "However, we can put together a capital budget for the next 2-3 years to factor in equipment needs."

Brazil Water Superintendent Jake Raubuch asked if the funding for routine maintenance and painting of the new water tower could be set up in a separate fund.

"I don't want to have that mixed with other funds because I want to make sure we have it set back and don't forget about it like in the past," Raubuch said.

Baldessari said a separate fund can be set up for funding to be used specifically for water tower maintenance and painting.

Raubuch added that he believes a composite elevated storage tank would be the best option for both at Craig Park and Interstate-70, and Mayor Ann Bradshaw suggested making a multi-leg tower, similar to the current one, the alternate option for bid.

"I'm not trying to put any more work on anybody," she said. "I just think it would be a smart move to compare."

HWC Professional Engineer Brian Pohlar said additional designs on alternatives could create a delay in the project schedule and added, "You can always find somebody cheaper."

"But cheaper is not always better," Raubuch said. "We've also seen that in the past."

Despite the total cost of the projects being estimated at more than $8 million, Pierce said there has been one sign the cost may be less.

"To improve the fire protection at the new IVC facility, the estimate had been about $67,000, but the winning bid came in at just under $44,000," he said about the project to increase the size of the water mains (lines) in the area.

Pending delays in awarding the grant and approval of permits, the bulk of the water improvement projects are slated to begin construction June 15.

"Right now, the earliest construction could start is mid-June, but I am sure people would like to see dirt turning over sooner than later," Bingham McHale Partner Sue Beesley said.

"I feel like the people of Brazil deserve to see this happen," Bradshaw added. "It has already been pushed back enough as it is, and the residents, along with myself, want to see things get going."

Projected completion timetable

The following is an updated timeline projected for the completion of events regarding the City of Brazil's water improvement projects. The timeline is tentative and subject to change as times for the issuance of permits and awarding of grants may vary.

* April 16 -- Obtain letter of State Revolving Fund (SRF) approval,

* April 19 -- Submission of Water Grant Application,

* April 30 -- Permit issuance and completion of design/bid documents,

* May 3 -- Grant award,

* May 30 -- Executed grant agreement with the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and bid receipt,

* June 7 -- Close on SRF loan,

* June 8 -- Release of funding obtained from OCRA,

* June 15 -- Award construction contracts and commencement of construction,

* June 15, 2011 -- Construction completion, and

* July 15, 2011 -- Administrative closure.

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