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An infrastructure kind of day

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

A contractor for the White Estates sewer project, an agreement on work to be done at the wastewater treatment plant and new lighting for the street department all were discussed Monday at the New Castle Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.

Board members were reminded that bids will be opened for the White Estates Sanitary Sewer Project during a special 10 a.m. meeting Thursday in city council chambers.

Officials emphasized the only business to be conducted or discussed at that meeting will be opening of the bids.

“While the public is invited to attend and observe, there will be no opportunity for public comment or participation,” officials stressed.

Although White Estates is located just outside of New Castle city limits, the city council is working with the Henry County government in an interlocal agreement to provide a public sewer system to the neighborhood. The county is under a court order to resolve sewer issues there because discharge has been found in a nearby creek.

Residents of White Estates as well as those in the Walnut Acres addition and the South Lawn Acres addition would begin paying the $33.18 monthly surcharge at the completion of the sewer project, which is expected to be August 2019.

The surcharge is needed to pay back $2.4 million in bonds for the badly-needed infrastructure improvement. An additional $4 million of the $6.4 million project is coming via a forgivable state loan.

At Monday’s meeting, Board of Works members approved a $38,500 claim from United Consulting for engineering and design on the White Estates project.

It was an infrastructure improvement kind of day for Board of Works members, who also approved an agreement with RQAW, a Fishers engineering consultant the city has been working with for more than a year now on needs at the wastewater treatment plant. The firm is contracted to do blower improvements as well as grading and handrail upgrades for safety throughout the plant.

Board members approved an agreement with the company Monday, provided that the clause for damages be increased from $100,000 to $1 million. 

City attorney David Copenhaver stressed his remarks were not meant to reflect poorly on the company, but said if an engineering flaw is made and causes other equipment in the plant to break or someone to be injured, damages could easily exceed $100,000. He recommended the damage limit in the contract be increased to $1 million.

Meanwhile, at the recommendation of Street Commissioner Lee Walker, the board approved a quote of $9,885 submitted by Custom Electrical Services of New Castle for lighting needs at the street department garage area.

“Outside the building, all the lights were gone,” Walker said. “Inside the actual garage area where the work goes on, lighting is very dark and dim in there. The lights run east and west. We’re going to turn those around so they run north and south with more lights down on the floor where the guys are actually working. When you pull a big truck in, you don’t really need the top of the truck lit up, you need to see what you’re actually working on.”

Walker said the new lighting is particularly needed since Daylight Savings Time changes are now in effect and that makes the area dark when workers arrive in the morning.

Two other local contractors bid on the work – Mid State Electric and Dietz Electric.

New radios were the concern for New Castle Transportation Director Doug Sloan, who sent out requests for quotes on a repeater system. Tech Electronics, the low bidder, was approved subject to legal review of the agreement. Sloan said buses would be running today, Election Day.

In other business, New Castle resident Dan Bray asked about the process of vacating an alley between 904 and 908 Spring Street. Bray said he and New Castle Mayor Greg York concurred that the area is overgrown now and could not be used for traffic.

“It doesn’t resemble a driveway or alley in any way, shape or form,” York said.

Bray said he’d been mowing it for 50 years.

Copenhaver explained Bray would need to send a letter to city officials requesting the alley vacation. All adjacent neighbors would have to be notified, a legal ad published and he would need to attend a future city council meeting to discuss his request.

Copenhaver said it may be January before Bray’s request is officially granted.

The Board took two cash bids for farming 144 acres of city-owned land under advisement. Bids were received from Ross Landscape for $265 per acre and Hilbert Farms for $185 per acre. Public Works Manager Dave Barker said approximately 44 acres of the land is located near Osborne Park and west of Hillsboro Road. Another 78 acres is on Ind. 3, the old Mary Weiland property. Almost 22 acres is near the intersection of Washington and North 20th streets.

Also Monday, the board approved $500 sidewalk reimbursements for Michael Hinton and Pamela Martin, two residents in the 600 block of South 23rd St. who took advantage of the city’s program encouraging such repairs. The city offers $500 reimbursements to residents who take it upon themselves to repair sidewalks on their properties.