By Alex Bridges
Strasburg leaders this week rejected a possible site for a water tower near Stony Pointe subdivision.
Town Council on Tuesday voted against a motion to extend a deadline on an option to buy land in Pouts Hill by 180 days. Staff recommended the extension to keep the site available to firms working on proposals to help Strasburg solve water storage and pressure needs in the area of Crystal Hill and Stony Pointe subdivisions.
The town had an option to buy a parcel on Pouts Hill Road for $40,000. The deal also called for the town to make some water and sewer utility improvements to the property. The deadline for council to act on the offer neared and the time had not yet come for the town to collect and assess the proposals.
Town Council decided to let the pending deadline on the land option pass. Council voted 5-3 against the motion to extend the deadline. Councilmen Donald Le Vine, John Hall and Scott Terndrup voted in favor of the extension.
Town Manager Judson Rex said Thursday that town staff had recommended leaders keep the option to buy the property as offered to give firms time to submit proposals for the water needs. The town extended the deadline for the submissions to Aug. 16, Rex said. Some of the teams interested in submitting proposals asked for more time.
"We don't know what solutions or options might be available to help fill our pressure and flow needs in the water system," Rex said. "The Pouts Hill property is very strategically located where we are having pressure and flow issues in the system and we simply wanted to keep that property option available so if the teams came up with a solution they'd be able to propose it at that location."
Pouts Hill came up as an option after the town learned that property owned by Strasburg near Crystal Hill subdivision could serve as a location for a water tower. Storage ranked highest on a list of needs for the town's water system in a recent report.
Residents from both subdivisions voiced concerns about putting a water tower near their neighborhoods. The opposition prompted town leaders to hold off on making a final decision as to whether to buy the Pouts Hill property or to pursue the construction of a water tower on the land near Crystal Hill.
Strasburg issued a request for proposals from firms through the Virginia Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act. Under the PPEA, firms may submit proposals for projects and the information on the design and cost may remain confidential.
Strasburg sought the proposals from qualified design-build teams to meet the town's storage as well domestic and fire-flow needs in the water system. Water towers, when considered, came with land-use and aesthetic challenges. The request for proposals notes that the town has an interest in "innovative ideas" not previously considered.
"In pursuing innovative ideas, it should be noted that the Town is committed to improving its water system in a fiscally responsible manner and in a way that is sensitive to the natural, historical, and cultural resources that are abundant in the community," the request states. "Proposals submitted in response to this request should clearly identify how these two objectives will be achieved."
The town held a mandatory meeting before the submission deadline for all firms that planned to submit proposals. Nearly a dozen individuals representing a handful of construction and engineering firms attended the pre-bid meeting, Rex said. The town manager said he expects three to four firms to submit proposals by the deadline.
Staff has informed teams that the Pouts Hill site is now off the table as an option for water storage, Rex said. The town manager explained that firms now can consider the locations of any of the existing tanks or reservoirs.
The PPEA process also allows the design-build teams to pursue other options, though that likely would not happen.
"We're hoping that the design engineers will come up with a solution to the water system that would not impact the viewshed and have those negative aesthetic impacts that have been identified over the last few months," Rex said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org