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Activity to begin soon at site of wastewater treatment plant

Published March 25. 2011 05:01PM

Activity at the site of Palmerton's outdated wastewater treatment plant will soon commence.

Borough manager Rodger Danielson informed borough council on Thursday that the company has indicated its intention.

"They're very eager to get started," Danielson said. "Activities will start very shortly."

Once the project gets under way, Danielson said it is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Last month, council agreed to adopt an ordinance to borrow $10 million as part of a three-year general obligation note through First Niagara Bank at a fixed interest rate of 2.85 percent.

At that time, attorney Jens Damgaard, who serves as the borough's bond counsel, said council's decision to seek short-term funding will still enable it to pursue PENNVEST funding as a means of permanent financing.

In January, council agreed to advertise for the first reading of the ordinance for the borough to utilize interim financing over two years. Danielson said at that time the interim financing would address additional costs for engineering services, construction contingencies and change orders. He also said the borough would continue to pursue other financing options, such as the Pennsylvania Rural Water Association, an H2O grant, and PENNVEST funding.

That same month, council agreed to the intent to award the wastewater treatment plant upgrade project to KC Construction Company of Ivyland, Bucks County, after David Schlott, of ARRO Consulting Engineers, recommended that council award the contract to KC Construction Company, pending the approval of financing for the project and review of the contractor's bonds and insurance.

Schlott said the company was the apparent low bidder for the project, based on pre-cast post tensioned concrete construction, as its bid included a deduction in cost of $250,000 for the alternative, for a total bid of $8,350,000.

The project was bid as one general contract with all other trades being subcontractors to the general contract, Schlott said. The bidding included an alternate that was for the construction of the new sequencing batch reactor tanks using the pre-cast post tensioned method of construction, he said.

The three SBR tanks will be constructed using the precast concrete method and are the main treatment units in the project, Schlott said. The SBR tanks measure 42 feet by 122 feet, and are the largest tanks in the treatment plant, he said.

Afterward, council agreed by the same vote to hire ARRO for construction of engineering services for the project at a cost of $532,565.

Danielson said council last year approved ARRO for the design of the project at a cost of $337,000, which means it will pay the firm about $870,000 from start to finish.

In October, council authorized the signing of a wastewater treatment plant consent order after it learned it owed the state Department of Environmental Protection $30,500 for the borough's deficient plant. Danielson said at that time the consent order was necessitated by the borough's current wastewater treatment plant, which has been cited by DEP for several deficiencies over the past two years.

He said the borough would utilize money from its sewer fund to pay the consent order, and added that the action could actually work in the borough's favor as it relates to a potential grant through PENNVEST since one of the stipulations to qualify for the grant is to be under a consent order.

In August, council approved the acceptance of Carbon County bond financing after county commissioners approved an interest reduction loan that will issue economic development bonds.

That loan will result in about a $400,000 savings to the borough over the course of a 30-year bond issue, Danielson previously said.

The bonds are available through federal stimulus money, also known as the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

Council agreed in June to apply for an H2O grant in the amount of $8,164,530. However, Danielson informed council that the borough will no longer pursue funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture after it inquired whether it could receive $10 million of the proposed $34 million the department was told it will receive.

Danielson said the borough's current water user rate is $33.50 per month. He added the rate could increase to $50 a month when the payment of the interim financing is due.

In other business, council:

• Approved, on a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Jason Behler absent, a resolution to set up an account at First Niagara Bank to set up a construction fund.

• Approved, on the same vote, a resolution to set up a capital account at First Niagara Bank to set up a sewer fund.

• Granted conditional approval to John Sarik, to obtain a building permit, contingent on passing a septic perk test, and to abide by future line assignments.

• Approved Bruce Borger's pension benefit. Borger had served as the borough's mechanic for many years.

• Appointed Tom Vanderbeck to the Palmerton Hospital Authority.

• Adopted a handicapped parking ordinance to allow handicapped parking on the south side of the 800 block of Edgemont Avenue, as well as on the south side of the 200 block of Lehigh Avenue.

• Approved the first reading of a no-parking ordinance along the north side of Princeton Avenue 100 feet east of Center Street west to terminus, as well as along the south side of Princeton Avenue from Center Street west to terminus.

• Granted a handicapped parking request from Barbara Hadinger at 511 Fourth St.

• Granted permission to Fire Chief Dennis Behler to take two vehicles to attend the Mahanoy City Truck Dedication Parade on May 7.

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