Property owners updated on Southern Hills sewer project

Thursday, February 8, 2007

A large crowd attended Monday night's Cassville City Council meeting to hear an update on the proposed Southern Hills sanitary sewer expansion project.

Kevin Sprenkle, project engineer, presented the council and interested property owners with his preliminary cost estimates for the project, which he places at $724,614.55.

Sprenkle said his per unit pricing was based on a similarly sized project he recently worked on in Branson West. He also provided a cost estimate using unit pricing from the recently completed Sherwood Forest project. That estimate totalled $687,727.45.

"On the estimates, I tried to make it high," said Sprenkle, "but I can't guarantee you either (the high or the low) number."

Several individuals asked Sprenkle what the project would cost each individual homeowner.

"Until the bids are opened and we see the bottom line, we can't tell you that," Sprenkle said. He did point out that the costs could not exceed 25 percent of the original estimate of $780,000, which was established when the Southern Hills Neighborhood Improve-ment District (NID) was formed on Jan. 17, 2006.

Based on the engineer's estimate of $724,614.55 and factoring in the city's $400,000 pledge toward the project, the per-person cost equates to approximately $6,000. Accord-ing to the engineer, there will be 56 people sharing the cost.

The project will be financed using low interest loans provided through the State Revolving Fund (SRF) and paid back through assessments charged under the Southern Hills NID and amortized over 20 years.

According to Sprenkle, project plans have been submitted to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for review and approval. A construction permit could be granted in the next few weeks.

In order for the project to move to the bid phase, the city must obtain 18 easements required to complete the project. As of Monday, the city had received 10 signed easements, which had been donated by the property owners.

When asked what the city would do if some homeowners refused to sign the easements, Sprenkle deferred to City Attorney Don Cupps.

"We would first attempt to negotiate," said Cupps. "If we couldn't negotiate, we would have to resort to condemnation."

Over the past four months, Sprenkle said he has revised the Southern Hills sewer expansion plan three different times.

"The final layout is finalized but the actual route is not concrete until it's built," said Sprenkle. "I tried to run all the sewers up the draws and I tried to miss trees as much as possible."

Yard restoration and septic tank demolition were included in the project costs but the estimated price tag does not include chip and sealing Glenwood Circle, which loops through Southern Hills.

Several homeowners expressed their opinion that road resurfacing was the city's responsibility and should not be included in the total project cost. Council members agreed with that assessment.

Sprenkle said he hoped to have the project started by spring.

"Pipe prices are stable at present and diesel and gas prices have come down," said Sprenkle. "This is the best time to go ahead if you want to get reasonable bids."

The council also discussed the status of the proposed Hilltop sewer expansion plan with Sprenkle and Cupps.

According to Sprenkle, the city held a meeting with Hilltop property owners and officials with DNR and the Barry County Health Department to address failing septic systems that did not meet state or county regulations. That meeting occurred approximately three years ago.

As a result of that meeting, the city agreed to design a plan to extend city sewer to the area. It was that discussion that also prompted city officials to consider expanding sewer to the Southern Hills area.

"We have a set of plans that are nearly complete and those plans are now sitting in limbo," said Sprenkle.

Due to changes that have occurred in the Hilltop area, city officials expressed their desire to revisit the issue. Mayor Jim Craig asked Cupps to set up a meeting with Hilltop property owners to discuss the future of the project.

In other business, the council:

• Approved an ordinance amending the original agreement with Sprenkle and Associates by $18,000 to cover additional time the engineering firm has provided for the Southern Hills project.

• Discussed pursuing a Transportation Enhancement Program grant through the Missouri Department of Transportation to construct a sidewalk along Highway Y between the middle school and high school.

• Received an update on the skateboard park project from City Administrator Mike Hayslip. He informed the council about grants available through the Tony Hawk Foundation and said he would set up a meeting with the Park Board and interested students to discuss specific plans for the park.

• Approved an amendment to the airport grant agreement's scope to include crack repair, overlay and remarking of the runway and taxiways as well as updating the airport master plan and the airport layout plan and replacing the airport's rotating beacon. The grant completion date was also extended to Dec. 31, 2007.

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