City Councilors said it was the right project but the wrong approach as they gave the final go-ahead Aug. 14 to a water tank replacement project.
“The statement has been made that staff was working on this for a long time,” said Mayor Pro Tem …
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“The statement has been made that staff was working on this for a long time,” said Mayor Pro Tem Alberto Garcia. “Well, the public outreach was not for a long time. The public outreach was just for a couple of months and I think if we’d been more diligent about it and engaged our residents sooner, it would have made people feel they had more input.”
Westminster City Councilors voted 7-0 to approve a replacement project for the two water tanks atop Gregory Hill at their Aug. 14 meeting, criticizing city officials for not notifying neighbors of the work sooner.
Westminster Utilities Engineering Manager Stephen Grooters said he expected the city would issue a notice allowing the work to proceed in early September, with construction beginning mid-month. He expects the project will be entirely finished by April 2019.
The two existing tanks, each holding about two million gallons of water, are due to be replaced. The easternmost tank, at about 82nd and Osceola Street, came online in 1954; its neighbor to the west in 1960. The entire complex would move about 200 feet to the northeast, effectively moving from the dead-end at Osceola Street to the dead-end at Newton Street.
The new tanks would be larger -- each would hold about one million gallons of water more and would be nearly twice as tall as the existing tanks. In addition, the city is building a small pumping station to the east to help fill the tanks.
The tanks are key to city efforts to improve or maintain water pressure in zone three, Grooters said. That’s the area roughly between 80th and 104th and Federal Boulevard east to U.S. 36 and Grooters told councilors the tanks connect that area with the Semper Water Treatment facility.
“What we are trying to say here is that water flows downhill so when we put the tanks at the right elevation, the water can freely go where it needs to go to serve our customers,” Grooters said.
The zone three project is budgeted for about $40 million overall, he said. The Gregory Hill portion accounts for about $15 million of that. PCL Construction of Denver was the winning bidder on the work, coming in at $14.5 million -- $12.5 million for the work plus a $2 million contingency.
Councilors said the project was important, even necessary but said neighbors should have been notified sooner. Neighbors of the proposed work were notified about the project at a June 21 meeting.
Councilor Bruce Baker said he had no problems with the designs of the tank or the ultimate conclusion that called for replacing them.
“I think where we failed, where this council failed, is that we ignored the people who live there,” Baker said. “I tend to remember hearing about this project a couple of years ago. Why weren’t the people who live in the neighborhood brought in a couple of years ago?”
Councilor Shannon Bird agreed, saying the project is the best way to supply water to Westminster’s residents at a fair price.
“But again, I don’t feel we handled the outreach in a manner that we should have,” Bird said. “I think we can do better than this. We have citizens who we all respect who live in this neighborhood. It’s much better to do projects with all of us collaborating.”
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