Watertank debate will be over Thursday – maybe
Community Development Director Bob Nunes isn’t taking any chances. He mailed out 2,200 notices to property owners in Johnson Lane about Thursday night’s commission hearing on the proposed water tank for the Airport/Mountain View water system.
After weeks of discussion among county officials and residents over the proposed location of the tank, staff is recommending the tank be located at 1551 Johnson Lane, near Squires Street, as the most efficient location.
Resident Rich Richardson, who lives across the street from the proposed tank site, thinks the county should move the location to BLM property near the Johnson Lane Volunteer Fire Station. He said the new site would be cheaper and won’t compromise residents’ views or property values.
County Manager Dan Holler and Nunes question Richardson’s figures. Holler said the debate boils down to aesthetics vs. economics, and planning a system that meets the needs of the entire community.
“The amount of work he (Richardson) has put into this is commendable,” said Holler. “But when you get down to the nuts and bolts, it’s not good information. It’s real tough to hear and real tough to say. But we didn’t base our estimates on just one other bid.
“The political choice is where do you want to put the tank vs. the economics.”
The differences between estimates lie in water tank construction and pipe costs.
Richardson’s water tank estimate is 24 cents per gallon compared to the county’s 34 cents. Holler said Richardson based his cost on the 2-million gallon Voltaire tank in Carson City, which is 500,000 gallons larger than the county proposal. Costs for the smaller tank are 34 cents per gallon, according to Douglas County.
The larger the tank, the cheaper the per gallon costs.
“People don’t want a bigger tank, that’s for sure,” Nunes said.
“Based on our estimates, his plan would cost $440,000 more,” Holler said. “We could have the same issues at that location. Would we have the same complaints? I don’t know. And he’s making an assumption of getting the BLM land for free.”
Holler said the goal is to have the new tank in by next spring. Work has been delayed several weeks since the neighbors’ protest began in October.
“We need to have enough water next spring not to have to ration or have wells that when you turn on, they suck up sand. The other critical time line is proposed development. We haven’t been able to tell them (developers) what they have to build till we have a design,” Holler said. “It also hurts us because we’re not adding customers to help pay for it.”
Nunes said if the county doesn’t have a well-defined system in place, developments can come in and build their own systems, a trend the county is trying to avoid.
A 1.5-million water storage tank, based on 3 percent growth rate in population would have a 15-year life span for customers of the Mountain View/Airport water system, Holler said. The two-acre site at Squires is big enough for a second tank or to put up a bigger tank if necessary.
Richardson also questioned the cost of pipe, asking whether the county needed to install 16-inch pipe at $65 per linear foot or his suggestion for 12-inch pipe at $45 per foot.
Officials said the 16-inch pipe meets pressure and fire flow requirements.
“Let’s say his numbers are wrong and ours are right,” said Holler, “and we end up going $400,000 over. I don’t want to be threatening, but if it costs more, the ratepayers will be paying the potentially higher numbers. What is this to the ratepayers if you have to pass on $400,000 hit?”
As for neighbors’ complaints that they weren’t notified early enough about the tank proposal, Holler said the project comes under the county’s design review process which doesn’t require a public notice.
For Thursday’s meeting, though, Nunes sent out 2,200 notices to every parcel owner in Johnson Lane.
Commissioners have a number of options Thursday, Holler said. They can go with the staff proposal and locate the tank at the Johnson Lane-Squires Site, or order a bid on Richardson’s recommended site on BLM land north of the Johnson Lane Fire Department off Stephanie Way.
Another bid would cost $30,000 to $50,000 and hold up the process 45 to 60 days, according to Nunes.
“Is the second location worth that cost as aesthetics?” Holler asked.
Nunes said staff has taken several steps to mitigate the appearance of the proposed water tank.
“We’ve shortened it and increased the diameter. We’ve also added another $20,000 to the landscaping to bring that up to $40,000,” he said.
Commissioners will hold a hearing beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday at commission chambers in the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.