Holland explains water tower grant needs

 

Bill Powell/The Herald
Holland Town Council President Tom Thacker had 35 people in attendance Wednesday at Town Hall as talk turned to landing a grant and low-interest loan for a $1.13 million, two-pronged water tower project.

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

HOLLAND — A proposed rehabilitation of one water tower, the complete replacement of another and how costs could be handled came into focus Wednesday during a Holland Town Council hearing on a push for grant funding.

Thirty-five people were present to hear Midwestern Engineers’ Bryce Anderson and others explain the rehab needs of a 200,000-gallon water tower in Holland and the urgency to replace the smaller, 20,000-gallon tower in Stendal dating to 1960.

Holland’s water utility consists of about 300 Holland customers, 160 in the Stendal area and another 120 in even more rural areas.

Holland no longer treats its own water. Instead, the utility purchases from the Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District and the St. Henry Water Corp., with Holland using about 200,000 gallons a day and about 40,000 a day going to rural and Stendal customers.

Water tower inspections have occurred every four or five years, according to Town Council President Tom Thacker.

Photo provided
Holland-area resident Ryan Yoder, snapped this picture of particularly bad icing at the Stendal water tower in the winter of 2014.

The Holland water tower near the elementary school needs to be repainted after pits and seams are addressed and a new ladder installed. It was last painted 15 years ago, according to Anderson. The rehabilitation work is estimated to cost $361,000.

Stendal’s tower has been repaired many times over the years and was out of commission for a month in the fall of 2014. A costly rehabilitation is out of the question because the globe-shaped tower is so small it starts freezing in the coldest part of winter. Also, Nathan Held with the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission said a grant application simply calling for rehabbing the Stendal tower likely would not be as competitive.

Holland’s preferred option at Stendal is to construct a new 50,000-gallon tower for about $456,000. The old one would remain in use until the modern replacement is ready to go online, Anderson said. Thacker said the Lockhart Township Community Club has donated land north of the existing tower for its replacement.

In addition to construction and rehabilitation costs topping $800,000 for the towers, non-construction costs of $333,000 make for a total project of $1.13 million, according to Held.

Thacker said now is the time to try for financial assistance for a project. A recent income study showed Holland had 51.1 percent of its respondents classified as low- to moderate-income households. The cutoff to be eligible for the kind of grant Holland needs was 51 percent low- to moderate income.

The community’s low- to moderate-income designation will expire soon and Thacker said he is not sure the town could again qualify.

The income survey a couple of years ago allowed Holland to acquire a planning grant that is the groundwork for the project now on the table.

Holland plans on applying with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for a $600,000 construction grant, the maximum allowed. The remaining $532,000 that’s needed will come from a low-interest State Revolving Fund loan, according to Held.

Thacker said the utility bills sent in Holland include a charge for water and a charge for sewer. With a grant, preliminary estimates suggest the water rate shown on a Holland bill could increase by about 15 to 18 percent. Without grant funding, that rate could go up 35 to 38 percent to pay for the tower project.

The deadline for the current round of OCRA funding is Friday, July 20.

Time is short, Thacker and Held said, but Holland’s application would be boosted if residents, especially those in the Stendal area, would submit short letters citing the need for the project. Those letters — they will be included in the application — can be dropped off at Town Hall or emailed to Held at nathan@ind15rpc.org or to Holland at townofholland@psci.net.

One property owner who indicated she would be sending a letter was Ruth Carlisle, whose family raises beef cattle at Stendal. Her sons hold down jobs off the farm so the self-watering equipment they use in the winter must continue to be supplied. At 80 years of age, Carlisle said, her days of chopping a hole in ice covering a pond are past.

“We support this totally as a family,” Carlisle said.

Prairie Farms Dairy, the utility’s largest customer, will also submit a letter because, if Holland’s water tower went offline, dairy spokesman David Phaup said, the farmer-owned co-op would be in trouble.

No one spoke against the plan to rehab the large tower and replace the small one, but Holland Volunteer Fire Department Chief Adam Chambers spoke in strong terms about the need, because of safety and the Stendal area’s growth, to expand the project to include upsized mains in the Stendal area for fire protection.

Thacker indicated financial realities have resulted in the limited-scope project to address the towers. Holland’s planning study indicated a broader project that included upsized mains could cost $6 million.

Councilwoman Melanie Barrett said Holland’s water utility has been ­and will continue replacing lines a little at a time. Such a two-block project on Second Street in Holland cost $40,000. And Thacker suggested Stendal-area residents could work with elected representatives toward a goal of speeding the installation of larger lines in that area.

 




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