Plans Made To Restore Litchfield Water Tower

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Ted LaBelle of Crawford, Murphy and Tilly Engineering presented members of the Litchfield City Council with an option to restore the city’s water tower during their meeting on Thursday, June 7, for an amount significantly less than the original $500,000 price tag the project was expected to carry.

LaBelle said that bids for the project were opened on May 31, with five bids received for the project. Joliet-based Tecorp Inc. was the low bidder for all four options CMT presented, including the original plan to have the city’s hydropillar sandblasted and repainted inside and out.

That option was estimated to cost $500,000, but the low bid was closer to $600,000 according to LaBelle. In an effort to find a less expensive option, LaBelle said he worked with a paint representative and came up with the possibility of pressure washing and coating the hydropillar, rather than sandblasting the tower.

LaBelle said that Winfield, IL, had done something similar with good results and saved $400,000 on their project. He added that he believed that this would give the city 15 more years before they would need to have the hydropillar sandblasted.

LaBelle also suggested looking at mixers for the standpipe, which he said would keep water from sitting too long in the other water tower. He said that bids were taken for two mixers and that he had spoken with Medora, the maker of the Gridbee mixing system, and they were willing to offer a five year equipment guarantee if the city purchased the device from them.

Alderman Woodrow Street asked if the mixer would help with the water odor and taste factors the city had experienced. LaBelle said that he believed that the mixer would help improve water quality.

LaBelle and CMT would recommend to the council to approve the Gridbee mixing system from Medora for a cost of $38,000 and the pressure washing option from Tecorp for approximately $305,000, for a grand total of approximately $344,000 for the two projects. The council would vote 7-0 in favor of the recommendation, with alderwoman Marilyn Sisson absent.

Wilson Retirement

Prior to the start of regular business, the city took time to honor several employees for their dedication to the city, including one who had spent more than three decades helping to build Litchfield into what it is today.

Randy Wilson started his career with the street department as a laborer in 1984, assisting in the widening and repaving of North State Street, Ferdon Street and West Tyler Avenue, as well as the resurfacing of Union Avenue that involved covering the old brick roadway. He was also part of the parking lot development at Lincoln Land Community College and the installation of water mains in the Dean Meier Industrial Park.

In 1998, Wilson transferred to the lake department, where he served as campground host until 2008 before continuing to work for the department as a MEO (motor equipment operator) II. Among the projects that he has helped with include the development of the horse campground, the beach house renovation, the playground renovation and the rip-rapping of the lake.

“Randy Wilson will be sorely missed because of his working knowledge of the history of the lake and the resourcefulness required to keep and maintain the grounds at Lake Lou Yaeger,” Mayor Steve Dougherty said in a proclamation read on Thursday.

In addition to Wilson’s retirement, the council also honored Police Chief Lee Jarman for 25 years of service, Rhonda Weatherford for 20 years of service, Police Officer Shane Grammer for 15 years of service, John Fenton (street department) and Dawn Ashby (city clerk’s office) for ten years of service and Firefighter Chris Bates for five years of service.

Agenda Items

During their regular agenda, the council approved the annual committee renewal appointments, accepted the minutes from the May 17 meeting and directed the city clerk to transfer funds and pay bills.

In new business, the council declared a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu (previously used by the water department superintendent) as surplus, approved the purchase of a chemical feed pump for the water treatment plant, approved the contract with CMT for engineering services for the Walton Lake dam inspection for a cost not to exceed $3,900 and approved a motion to approve Three Rivers Diving to move a stem guide on the lower gate up approximately six to nine inches, add a hard stop above the lower gate and to inspect the gate for proper operation after the modifications for an amount not to exceed $3,576.

Lake Lou Yaeger also received some upgrades, thanks to grants the city received from the Kilton Foundation. The city approved the purchase of a six-foot tall black vinyl coated chain-link fence to border the patio and south edge of the beach at the beach house, including a 22-foot rolling cantilevered gate and four-foot open walk gate for an amount not to exceed $9,850 and the purchase of aquatic play equipment from Commercial Recreation Specialist for approximately $22,200 for the lake. Both were funded by Kilton Foundation grants.

In other lake business, the council approved the lease agreement for the Milnot Beach House meeting room space, but tabled a motion to approve the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the room until more information is received due to liability concerns.

In sewer business, the council accepted a proposal from CMT to proceed with engineering services for the Lake Yaeger recreation area pump stations and force main on a time and expense basis not to exceed $91,300 and a proposal from CMT to proceed with engineering services for preparing easement plats and IDOT highway permits for the pump station project for an amount not to exceed $20,000. The engineering firm also had their proposal accepted for right-of-way and easement services for the ITEP streetscape improvement project on the west side of town not to exceed $102,219. Mayor Dougherty said that project received a 1.9 million dollar grant and will be using tourism and TIF funds for the remaining costs.

In other business, the council approved a motion to destroy closed session tapes that had been previously released and were completed at least 18 months ago or longer, approved a motion to establish prevailing wage rates, approved a motion to solicit bids for pressure washing and sealing of the decorative cement in the downtown streetscape, approved a motion to relist the city property on Columbia Street with Century 21 and approved a full-page advertisement in Business XPansion Journal (the September/October Illinois Profile edition) for an amount not to exceed $1,700.

The council would go into closed session at 7:05 p.m. and would pass two items when they went back into open session. The contract of Fire Chief Kevin Schott was renewed for 990 days while Wesley Hicks was approved as part-time campground manager.

The Litchfield City Council will meet again on Thursday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m.

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