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Council discusses use of ARPA funds

During a special workshop on Sept. 28, the Chadron City Council had a roundtable discussion regarding the use of its estimated $940,000-950,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds, with council indicating the money would be used to address water issues.

Zoning/Building Official Janet Johnson presented maps of water lines in Kenwood as a visual aid.

One of the items found in a recent water study, Johnson said, is the pressure in the Kenwood area is very poor, especially for firefighting. Lines were selected to help increase pressure and flow for the addition, the first being East Niobrara from Main Street out to the landfill. It is currently a four-inch line, which would be upgraded to eight-inch at an estimated $450,000.

Other lines considered for improvement include: from North Mears to North Pine, the north end of the line on Pine to Bartlett Road and the block of North Mears east of Chadron Intermediate. Johnson noted improving the lines would cost an estimated $545,000, and improve the water line loops in the addition and the pressure.

Another water project considered is repair of the east water tank, located behind the Chadron State campus. Johnson said a loose estimate for the repairs is about $500,000, and if nothing else is done it’s imperative the stairs leading down into the tank. She cautioned the stairs have been on the list of repairs for the last couple years, and if not fixed the City will likely be fined.

Mayor Mark Werner noted, in terms of phasing, the pipework could start earlier than the tank. Johnson said no matter the decision engineering has to be done first, and engineering for the tank will likely take into next spring. The water line projects could be out to bid by later winter or early spring.

Another arena being looked into for ARPA funding is wastewater. Johnson said the only thing currently considered is the use of solar energy at the wastewater facility at an estimated cost of $400,000. That would provide for a 255-kilowatt generator.

Council member Keith Crofutt said the solar generator doesn’t actually solve any of the major issues at the wastewater facility, and pointed out it was unclear whether a solar project would qualify for ARPA funds.

Council indicated the east water tank is the priority project, but doing it doesn’t leave quite enough money for the three Kenwood addition lines outside of the East Niobrara line. Crofutt emphasized other money could be set aside for the projects to fill in the gap not covered with ARPA funds, and wanted to further investigate this option.

Under the ARPA guidelines, money must be obligated to project prior to the end of 2023, and projects to which the money is dedicated must be complete by the end of 2024. It was pointed out during the discussion that the sooner the money is obligated the sooner the City would be able to ask for more.

Also during the workshop, council approved an $8,500 pay estimate to Vintage Masonry for repair of the rowlock brick on the façade of the Chadron Public Library. Johnson explained the way the library is constructed causes water to come down off the roof and sit on the brick. Over the years, the brick has lost its integrity and some of it has fallen.

Johnson further noted a full payment request will be available at the Oct. 18 meeting.

A $47,100 pay estimate was approved for Olsson Associates, for rehabilitation of the wildlife fence at Chadron Municipal Airport. Johnson said the estimate is for the full amount of the contract, and Olsson has finished surveying and submitted their proposed alignment and construction information to the FAA. The next step is to enter a construction contact with Olsson. Johnson said she’s been told several times the $47,100 will be reimbursed in the next contract, when the city gets a grant to construct the fence.

As to dimensions, Johnson said it will be 9.5 feet tall, significantly taller than what is in place now.

Pay estimates of $120,579.88 and $15,703.86 were approved to Fuller Construction for the Fourth Street paving project. Johnson pointed out the project came in under contract by about $3,000-$4,000. Also in regard to Fourth Street, a pay estimate of $120,410.50 was approved to Buettner construction for water main replacement. Johnson pointed out this was also under contract by about $3,000.

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