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Village Council chooses top firm— Water plant process begins

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At their Nov. 3 meeting, Village Council members took a significant step toward constructing a new water plant. Council selected its top choice out of three preliminary design firms for the project, and if negotiations on cost are successful, the firm could begin the design process soon, according to Village Manager Patti Bates this week. The entire building process is expected to take two years.

Council selected the national firm HNTB as its top choice. The firms Hazen and Sawyer/LJB ranked second and Burgess and Niple came in third. If the negotiations with HNTB aren’t successful, Bates will next negotiate cost with the second choice, Hazen and Sawyer, and, if those negotiations are unsuccessful, will try with Burgess and Niple. Bates said she will begin negotiations immediately and hopes to bring legislation on the choice to Council’s Nov. 17 meeting.

Council met in executive session before its regular meeting for the purpose of discussion of water plant consulting engineer candidates.

All three firms, which were the top three out of six applicants for the job, made presentations at a special Council meeting on Oct. 27. At Monday night’s meeeting, Council members said they unanimously chose HNTB because they were impressed with the thoroughness of the firm’s presentation and also because the firm has the most experience with a design/build process for water plants, the process Council has chosen for the local plant construction.

HNTB was also the top choice of a committee that advised Council on the decision. Committee members were Water and Wastewater Supervisor Joe Bates, Manager Bates, Council members Karen Wintrow and Gerry Simms, Village Electric and Water Distribution Supervisor Johnnie Burns and Scott Strahley of the Ohio Regional Community Assistance Program, or RCAP. The committee ranked the firms on criteria including the number of professionals available for the project and the amount of previous experience on design/build.

Council chose the design/build model for the plant because it’s more expedient and therefore less expensive than the traditional process, according to Wintrow.
While Bates said at the Oct. 27 meeting that she had requested that the finalists bring cost estimates for the project, none did, stating they didn’t yet have enough information about the scope of the project to make an estimate. Rather, the firm representatives said they would charge a percentage of the total plant cost, estimated at about $3.5 million, based on what services they provide. According to an email this week from Bates, the Village seeks a 1-million gallon plant with iron and manganese removal and possible softening, with the firm engaged with the Village through the entire design and construction process. The firm’s responsibilities would include all the research needed to design the plant up to 30 percent of design completion (a requirement of the design/build model), including public meetings about softening, scientific research and design research, all EPA permitting functions, preparation of bid specifications, the letting of the bid for construction, the technical review of all bids, the oversight of the build phase and assistance through a one-year maintenance period after the plant begins operation.

During an earlier budget discussion for 2015 at the Nov. 3 meeting, Bates said that about $400,000 should be earmarked for the preliminary plant design process in next year’s budget, an amount Bates described as a broad estimate since negotiations have yet to begin.

HNTB is the largest of the three finalist firms, with about 3,500 employees and a headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. The firm, in business for over 100 years, also has offices in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus, and has constructed roadways, sports arenas, bridges and transit systems in the United States and worldwide.

Mark Rogge of the firm’s Cincinnati office would be the project manager should negotiations be successful. The firm has designed and constructed 12 water treatment facilities within a 12-hour drive of Yellow Springs, according to Rogge at the Oct. 27 presentation, and has extensive experience in iron/manganese removal, water softening and EPA permitting.

“We know how to do water plant construction in the state of Ohio,” he said at the meeting.

While the Ohio Revised Code requires that a separate firm be hired to build the building after the preliminary design process is completed, HNTB would continue to be involved with the entire process, Bates said.

Council has spent several years considering how best to replace the Village’s current aging plant. While Council originally considered three options. including purchasing water from Springfield, refurbishing the existing plant or building a new plant, Council members earlier this year chose building a new plant as the most efficient option that offers the most local control.

In other Council business:
• Villager Isaac DeLamatre voiced concern about a lack of citizen representation on the police chief search committee, which includes several members of the police department and Village staff. Villagers at the recent police forum were united in their priorities for the new chief, he said, and that input should be taken seriously.

However, the committee includes four villagers — John Gudgel, Aaron Saari, Leslie White and TJ Turner — along with members of the police department and Village staff, Bates stated. All the community members on the committee attended the forum, according to Bates, and forum feedback has been transcribed and will be seriously considered during the selection process.

Other items from Council’s Nov. 3 meeting, including a special session on capital and enterprise expenses for the 2015 Village budget, will be in next week’s News.


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