With the new Beech-Nut factory set to send its waste to the city’s wastewater treatment plant and more development slated for Route 30, city officials are constantly thinking about the city’s infrastructure.
The Common Council this week approved the creation of an infrastructure committee to coordinate and develop a management plan for the city’s infrastructure, an idea of freshmen Alderman Daniel Roth, R-2nd Ward.
“It should have been done 20 years ago,” Roth said.
The infrastructure committee will not only be dealing with water, sewer and storm water lines, but roads, lights and bridges.
“This is the whole picture,” Roth said. “We want to look at everything and be more cost effective.”
Department of Public Works Supervisor Ray Halgas remembers serving on the Common Council in 1993 when the concrete structure holding in Bunn Creek collapsed during a heavy rainstorm, spilling the creek into the city’s treated water at the Water Treatment Plant on Brookside Avenue. The council quickly developed a six-year plan for improvements and upgrades at the plant.
“Now we’re in the next phase of improvements at the water treatment plant, and with Beech-Nut sending its waste here, we are looking at the wastewater treatment plant.”
Halgas said DPW crews are also constantly upgrading the pump stations that send drinking water to each side of the city.
However, there are certain areas of the city that need more attention than his crews can give.
“It’s out of the scope of what DPW can do with its staffing and equipment,” Halgas said.
There are several areas of the city where pipes need to be replaced because of age or inadequate size, for example. Halgas said crews have patched a pipe along DeWitt street about 12 times in the last eight years, and many places throughout the city flood during heavy rains, including sections of Route 5, because stormwater pipes are inadequate.
“People look at the city and see old buildings, built in like 1900, well imagine what’s underneath those buildings,” Roth said. “We need to identify the situation because if we don’t identify these problems we’ll be blindsided when something comes up.”
Roth intends to work with many department leaders, from the city engineer and water and sewer department heads to the police and fire chiefs.
Roth said many of the projects are extremely costly, like the $1 million the city is expected to spend to rebuild Church Street. He wants to work with state and county officials to see if there is a way to finance these costly projects.
“We don’t have the funds to digest these things,” Roth said. “We need to work with state and county officials to make this city last.”