Council sets two public hearings

Friday, June 24, 2022

LE MARS — Two items on the agenda for the June 21 city council meeting involved setting public hearings for infrastructure projects.

The first project discussed was the Hawkeye Avenue and 12th Street Southwest Intersection PCC Replacement Project.

Portions of the area are showing severe cracking and failure. City Administrator Jason Vacura noted the project is not a complete removal and replacement of the entire intersection but a replacement of those areas that are failing.

He explained there will be three different work areas to allow affected businesses to have at least one access to their business.

A representative from JEO Consulting Group, Inc., indicated traffic will be able to continue to travel north and south on Hawkeye (Business Hwy. 75), although it will be one lane and turn access may be limited.

The 12th Street intersection will be closed at one point when that area is repaired.

The council set noon, Tuesday, July 5, for a public hearing on the project to approve plans and specifications. Bids will be due at 10 a.m., July 27, with the contract awarded at the Aug. 2 council meeting. Completion date is set for Nov. 2.

The estimated project cost is $169,700, which will be funded by Road Use Tax dollars.

Well Beyond Initial Deadline

The second project on the agenda was Wastewater Improvements - 2022 Ultraviolet Disinfection.

Plans for the project have been prepared by Bolton & Menk, Inc.

Bacteria (disinfection) is an aspect of the city’s treatment process that needed to be addressed with the issuance of the city’s latest NPDES permit. The deadline to meet Iowa DNR compliance was November 2021. The current schedule has completion slated for spring of 2023.

According to Vacura, this work will take place at the current municipal facility site on the north edge of Le Mars and will include a new outflow pipe to the Floyd River, and will be squeezed in between existing structures.

Project cost is estimated at $4.8 million.

Council member Clark Goodchild noted some residents may be wondering, if a bunch of improvements and increased remodeling is going to happen at the facility west of Le Mars, why the city is putting money into the original plant.

“A simple explanation for that is we’re not going to abandon the old plant. It’s basically going to become a glorified pumping station, and I think it has been decided to dump into the Floyd River and not the West Branch of the Floyd River. So this is the last stage of the product going back to the river,” he said.

Wastewater Superintendent Doug Masuen told the council the city has better limits if it dumps the final treated product into the Floyd River rather than the West Branch.

“It’s in our favor to do that,” he said. “This has been in the plans for quite a while and it’s something that is necessary, unfortunately.”

Council member Mike Donlin said it was his understanding that the bacteria the city wants to eliminate has not been a long-standing threat, but the permit standards have changed over the years.

Masuen said, “The EPA has evolved quite a bit in the past 10 years, so they are now classifying the Floyd as a recreation river, so we have to keep the E. coli down so people don’t get sick while innertubing or swimming in there.”

City is in Violation

Mayor Rob Bixenman asked how the city has “danced around” with not complying with the November 2021 deadline.

“We are in violation,” Masuen said. “I did talk with a DNR agent a couple weeks ago about where the city is and how we are looking at moving forward. He was pretty pleased with where we were at and that we are moving forward.”

Goodchild added the city has been able to show for the last 5-6 years, that it has been progressing toward these plans.

With no further discussion, the council approved setting a public hearing for noon, Tuesday, July 5, on plans, specifications, form of contract and cost estimate for the Wastewater Improvements - 2022 Ultraviolet Disinfection, and to establish 2 p.m., Aug. 4, to receive and open bids with bids to be considered at the Aug. 16 council meeting.

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