Council members experienced “sticker shock” Tuesday night as they listened to the mounting price tags of proposed projects.
Norwalk City Council heard from the heads of the water, wastewater and street department as part of the city’s six-year capital improvement planning process.
Mayor Sue Lesch stressed these discussions, which she expects to have with all city departments during the next months, are not budget hearings, but a way for council members to ask questions about proposed projects and understand why departments are making the request. Neither the projects, nor the timelines, have city approval.
The presentations featured a host of Environmental Protection Agency mandates and sewer and water line replacements.
In addition, Street Department Superintendent Dick Moore proposed some physical improvements at the street department. One was a $80,000 blacktop repaving project for the parking lot area, which has been delayed since Brooks Hartmann was mayor. The bill could be $150,000 for the addition of two bays to the street department garage, which includes a bay for washing vehicles and equipment because the department does not have one so it must wash everything outside, even in below freezing temperatures.
Vehicle replacement also will be necessary, as two new dump trucks are on the wish list, as is a new street sweeper.
One item not specifically outlined, but mentioned in a “footnote” of the capital improvement proposals is finding a perpetual source of water. Public Works Coordinator Ralph Seward, who will retire April 1, said at some point the city must seriously consider entering into a long term contract with either Erie County or Northern Ohio Rural Water to buy treated water.
“I’m not sure how long we can continue to put upgrades at the plant,” Seward said. However, many cities on or near Lake Erie, such as Vermilion, Avon and Lorain, can tap into one of the largest sources of fresh water in the country. In addition, by joining together in consortiums, these cities have been able to stay on the cusp of water treatment technology.
“We have a corridor that runs 3 1/2 miles from Erie County” where water is available, Seward said. “We could run it clear to the water treatment plant and hook every side street up as we went.”
It would likely be an expensive proposition, but Lesch said it was something the city will need to consider and possibly move out of the “footnote” section.
In other council business, council approved $20,000 for a new roof at the recreation center at the old armory building. The city leases the building from the state for $1 per year and uses it more than it did 20 years ago, even with the addition of the Ernsthausen Community Center, said recreation director Joe Lindenberger.
“The need for that building is phenomenal, it’s booked non-stop,” he recently told council, adding the roof was in bad shape.
Also, the city sanitation department received an additional $29,000 to hire a part-time employee full-time.