Utilities clog library progress
January 15. 2013 2:28PM
The Dell Rapids City Council delayed its decision to move utility lines from beneath the Carnegie Public Library into the right of way at the intersection of Orleans Avenue and 6th Street.
As a part of the library renovation and expansion efforts, a quest in its second decade, the city had planned to reroute the underground utilities beneath the roadway, a standard in modern municipal sanitary sewer procedure. However, councilors and members of the public discussed benefits associated with keeping the existing location and encasing the plumbing with steal.
Dell Rapids resident Mark Aspaas, an architect at Architecture, Inc., told the council leaving the utilities where they are could potentially cut $200,000 from project costs, and doing so poses minimal risk to the city’s sanitary sewer or water system if they are encased.
“I would think that this would be a fairly safe way to handle the sanitary sewer,” Aspaas said. “You have a manhole nearby that can be used to clear the sewer if it happened to get clogged under the building. And even if something happened under the building that couldn’t be solved by water jetting or through the manhole, you can dig down on both sides of the building.”
Moving the plumbing into right of way is expected to cost $300,000 to $350,000.
The concern for city administration is liability. Dell Rapids City Administrator Justin Weiland agreed encasing the existing lines would save money, but it can’t be known if the city will still own property in 50 to 60 years, the approximate lifespan of an encased sanitary sewer.
Public utilities beneath private property should be avoided, he said.
Because funding the project has been a challenge – since the library board began pursuing the project about a dozen years ago, about $1 million of the $1.6 million needed has been generated– saving $200,000 would free up much needed funds, Aspaas said.
“This would be something that would get project positively moving forward. It would show cooperation between the city council and the library to endorse this project,” he said.
The $1.6 million includes the cost of moving utilities into the right of way.
Councilors suggested rather than going against the recommendation of city engineers and administration, the board should go back to the drawing board and see if cost saving can be found by reconfiguring the proposed building layout.
“If we can make some compromises there, we might be able to compromise on some other things and get things pushed through before too long,” said Councilor Jim Rueckert.
But Library Director Deb Huska said the plans drawn up are already barebones, and because the project relies on a $486,000 grant from the federal government mandating handicap accessibility, the added space of the new library doesn’t result in more space library for content.
“We really aren’t gaining a lot of space for books. We have that building down to what will allow us to maintain what we have,” she said, referring to the requirement that isles be widened in the new facility. “So if you cut back, you’re really making it smaller. That’s not moving forward.”
Huska said progress for the project has been at a standstill of late and the more time that goes by between action the greater the risk of losing the supporters the library project does have.
The council voted to delay action, instructing the board to come up with different cost saving scenarios for the council to consider.