The wait is finally over. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, the City of Exeter received official notification that its application for $500,000 in funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program had been approved.
The grant award is the final piece in the city's funding puzzle and will allow Exeter to begin work on its water system improvement program.
"The engineers will be here this week or next week to look at where to put the new lines," said Myrna Eisenbraun, Exeter city clerk. "They've been working all along, but now construction can really begin."
Exeter's proposed water system improvements are expected to cost approximately $1,695,000. The plan calls for replacement of the city's aging water system, which was constructed in 1959.
In addition to installing new six-inch water lines, the city will construct a second 200,000-gallon storage tank and also repaint the interior and exterior of its existing 50,000-gallon tank. The new tank will be located on a one-acre piece of property east of the bottom baseball field behind Exeter School.
The water system proposal will also add 41 additional fire hydrants to the system and replace existing water meters with new ones. When completed, city residents will be served by fire hydrants that are located within 600 feet of every residence and 300 feet from every piece of commercial property.
Exeter voters overwhelm-ingly approved a $950,000 bond issue to support the project in April of 2005. The bond money will serve as collateral on a $805,000 low-interest loan from USDA Rural Development. The bonds will be paid back through revenue generated from increased water use charges.
The project will also be supported by a $423,300 grant from the USDA. Approval of this grant was announced last May.
Now with approval of the $500,000 CDBG grant, engineers can begin the design process for the water system improvements.
According to project engineer Richard McMillan, with White River Engineering, Inc., of Springfield, his firm will now begin work on completing plans and specifications for the project.
"That will require survey work, on site, and easement acquisition," said McMillan. "This will take about three to four months to complete. We are trying to get everything done so that we can advertise for bids by late spring or early summer."
"By the time you advertise for bids, you're looking at 90 days before giving a notice to proceed to a contractor," McMillan added.
The engineer said he does not expect to see active construction on the water improvement project until late summer at the earliest.