Troy seeks grant for stormwater upgrades

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Town officials: Sinkholes need more than Band-aid solution

Feature Writer

TROY – Ahead of their regular town meeting Feb. 12, council members gathered for a public hearing regarding the town’s Stormwater Improvements Program grant proposal. Lisa Gehlhausen, executive director of Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, was present to invite public comments and discuss suggestions for strengthening the proposal. “This is a two-step process,” said Gehlhausen. “A proposal and an application.”

The proposal, due Friday, seeks to secure a grant of up to $500,000 for stormwater improvements. The grant is administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and is funded with federal community development block grant dollars. A local match of at least 10 percent of the total project cost is required. Gehlhausen informed the council the total project cost is $613,000. With the $500,000 maximum grant award, Troy would need to contribute about $113,000 for the local match.

“The (proposed) project is to replace storm sewers from Fulton Hill westerly.” Gehlhausen said, “This would alleviate sinkholes in people’s yards and constant repairs for homeowners. We’re here tonight to take comments on why it’s needed.”

“The town of Troy currently has in its general operating fund about $51,000, basically our 2014 budget,” Council President Gary Palmer said. “We need these improvements in our town … we’ve got sinkholes that are popping up everywhere. When a project’s going to cost more than $600,000, it’s pretty obvious – we need some funds.”

“We’ve patched numerous sinkholes,” said Utilities Superintendent Bernard Linne, “just to get them by until the big fix. But it’s like putting a Band-aid on. It’s long overdue and it needs a major overhaul instead of just a small little Band-aid here and there.”

“And a major overhaul is going to take a grant to do it,” said Clerk Betty Linne.

“If you start getting a lot of complaints this spring because of sinkholes, have them take pictures of the problem and submit a letter, it will help,” said office manager Lisa Dutschke.

Palmer said the town has had the engineering study done and it requires that the stormwater improvements take place. “We know what it’s going to cost and the town can’t fund it (all), so obviously that’s why we’re putting in for this grant.”

Gehlhausen told the council suggestions for strengthening the application included submitting a map that illustrates how the watershed flows westerly and southerly through Troy towards the river, along with photographs of sinkholes that show standing water following a rain event.

“Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs wants to make sure that you show sustainability if these grant funds are awarded to the town of Troy,” Gehlhausen said. “(They want to know) how you’re going to sustain these improvements. There was a storm water fee adopted and that’s worth quite a few points. They want additional pictures, a lot of people to attend these public hearings and seven letters of need. We had letters of need before and I think they were very, very well written,” she said.

She went on to say that the agency also requested details of previous storm water improvements and their associated costs. “I think you’re close. You just have to make a strong effort to get a lot of people here at the next hearing. We know what we have to do to make this competitive for April,” said Gehlhausen.

The next public hearing for the grant application is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. April 16. The application must be submitted by April 25 and awards are announced July 11. Following the public hearing, Bernard Linne told the council materials for the electrical substation are scheduled for delivery in mid March. The construction drawings were approved by the town’s engineering firm, he said, and concrete and structural work are slated to begin Feb. 24.

Linne also updated the council on progress of determining the best power configuration for the substation.

“I met with our electrical engineer, Jim Bridges, to go over our system’s overview mapping. Our long-range goal is to either stay with delta or go with wye,” said Linne. “He’s been crunching the numbers and we should have everything completed and his recommendations in about 30 days. He’s going to give us a breakdown on cost for switching to the wye system compared to (delta that) we’ve got now.

“We actually hired this firm last summer to start on the substation, get all the upgrades done and do a systems map. He’s been working this winter on the system upgrades and spent most of last summer on substation upgrades.”

Bernard Linne also told the council the state of Indiana requested the utility department declare how it would reimburse solar customers for net metering. In the future, he said, customers would likely sell some electricity back to the system and could be reimbursed by means of cash or a rolling credit. The council agreed to, at least initially, offer a rolling credit.

Currently, the department has one solar customer.

In other business:
• Linne requested the town purchase a generator to provide standby power to the water pump at the water plant. “We were (written) up by the state last spring for not having standby power at the water plant,” he told the council, stating he had researched models and suggested a 20-kilowatt LP standby generator and system for $5,787. The generator has automatic controls for weekly testing, he said. Linne said the project would require fencing upgrades and installation of a propane tank. The total cost for the upgrades, tank and cement pad needed for the tank would be approximately $750, he said, including labor. A motion was carried to approve the project.

• Linne requested approval to purchase four new fire hydrants to replace antiquated hydrants installed in 1977. “We have two hydrants along Highway 545 that need maintenance,” he said. “We were flushing them back in November and we broke one of them and had to shut it off.” Linne told the council that, as of Jan. 4, everything the utility department buys or uses must be lead-free and the hydrants are the next items that will need to be phased in. “I’d like to install them this summer,” he said. “We don’t absolutely need all four right now, but you have to realize if we’re out there tomorrow and (it breaks), we can no longer get replacement parts. If we buy (all four of) them right now, we’ll save 25 percent off our cost because they are going up 25 percent the end of March,” Linne said.

Clerk-Treasurer Betty Linne agreed. “It would save a significant amount of money,” she said. “At a 25 percent savings it would be worth buying them now.”

Bernard Linne estimated the total cost for the four hydrants and valves would be $8,837.88. The council decided to table the issue until the March meeting, stating they would still have enough time to submit an order at the reduced cost.