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Posted March 26, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Strasburg water tower off table for now

By Alex Bridges

Strasburg leaders have shelved plans for a new water storage tower - for now.

The Town Council Infrastructure Committee at their meeting Monday received more information about efforts to improve Strasburg's water service system. But the panel also received an earful from residents opposed to a proposal to build a water storage tower near one of two neighborhoods.

A study of the town's water service needs by engineering consultant firm Pennoni Associates, Inc. identified storage as a priority for maintaining pressure, especially during fire suppression efforts. Council and staff first looked at putting a tower on town-owned property near Crystal Hill. Neighborhood residents spoke out against the proposal.

Council and staff then pursued land offered in Pouts Hill, but residents of the adjacent Stony Pointe subdivision also protested.

At the meeting several spoke against any notion to put a tower at the Pouts Hill site for fear the structure would block the view of Signal Knob. Photographs of the site with a superimposed, 95 feet tall, 65-feet wide tower showed the structure would appear visible from most angles. Similar photographs of the Crystal Hill site also depicted a large tower in full view from roads and homes.

Council members voiced both hesitation and outright opposition to putting water towers on either site. Some suggested the town fully investigate the feasibility of other options. Councilwoman Sarah Mauck, chairwoman of the committee, asked town staff and Karl Schaeffer, with Pennoni, why Strasburg could not build a tower near the 1-million gallon reservoir in the Sandy Hook area.

The issue of fire suppression needs prompted questions about water systems in existing neighborhoods.

Chris Ritenour, chief operator of the water treatment plant, said recent tests showed that Crystal Hill does not meet state pressure requirements for fire suppression should an incident occur. Neighborhoods such as Crystal Hill and Stony Pointe were built before the town implemented its minimum standards for pressure.

By the end of the discussion, the committee directed staff to take a different approach, according to Town Manager Judson Rex. Strasburg will seek proposals from firms through the Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure Act.

"The first one is there's not a sense to proceed with a tower on Pouts Hill," Rex said. "So all options have kind of been explored and so the direction was for the staff to solicit private, PPEA proposals to solve our water storage problem."

The town has approximately $850,000 in funds remaining from the construction of Strasburg's new water treatment plant. The town has until November to spend the money it received for the project through outside sources. Since the money is associated with previously awarded grants the town can't use the funds as leverage for additional awards, according to Rex.

Council members directed staff to use the remaining money on projects other than a storage tower to improve the town's water system, Rex explained. The town manager noted that staff has a few water line projects in mind. The town seeks to build a water line connecting the subdivisions of Madison Heights and Crystal Hill.

Rex believes such a project would improve the connection between the town's upper and lower water zones and provide more balanced pressure.

Under the PPEA, a firm can submit a proposal to the town to design and/or build the needed facility or improvements. Such a proposal may be submitted under seal and opened only at a specific point in the process. In Strasburg's case the town plans to advertise for design-build options.

Firms that submit proposals through PPEA would include the method of financing for the project, according to Rex.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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