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Council members disagree on utility improvement project

Apr 9, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Several Riverton city council members have disagreed about the details of an ongoing utility improvement project that was designed to add capacity to the Riverview Road system on the south side of the city.

Council members Todd Smith, Richard Gard and Kyle Larson voted against the bid award for the Riverview Utility Improvement project in February. Council members Mary Ellen Christensen, Martin Cannan, Jonathan Faubion and Mayor Ron Warpness voted in favor of the bid, however, awarding the work to Patrick Construction of Riverton.

The company will install an 8-inch PVC sanitary sewer line between Augusta Drive and Hill Street near Riverview Road. The city budgeted about $175,000 for the project, and Patrick Construction proposed a cost of $147,470.

The city also is reconstructing the water and sewer lines that run along Riverview Road.

Augusta Drive

The sewer main will run across property owned by Wedge Fike. Sage Civil Engineering determined his land represented the best option for the project, which will benefit more than 50 residents in the subdivision north of the area in question.

Subdivision residents already have approached the city about problems with their septic tanks.

Fike agreed to the easement due to the potential for a tie-in, and he has appeared at several council meetings, but Gard said he wanted the city to explore running the sewer line through Augusta Drive to save money.

"It saves us $100,000 to go to Augusta -- it's in the city right-of-ways," Gard said. "I don't understand the confusion on this. ... We've had plenty of communication from the engineer that there is a possibility to go to Augusta."

He said the projected measurements needed to use Augusta Drive were "highly inflated." He thinks a project on Augusta Drive would be similar to the one planned for the Fike property.

Gard added that it would be unfair to pay for and install a line on Fike's property, because that is not done normally for other developers.

Fike property

Council member Jonathan Faubion reminded the council that the city had approached Fike, who "reluctantly" agreed to the project. Faubion said Fike has lost investments while he has waited for the city to move forward on the project.

Although the Sage company said it was possible to use Augusta Drive, Faubion said there was no guarantee that the alternative would result in an adequate water flow, especially if more lines were tied into the sewer main in the future.

He mentioned it would be unwise to take two steps backward while work progresses on Riverview Road. Voting the project down would translate into holding back on economic expansion for the city, he said.

"Running an 8-inch line in (Augusta Drive) seems ill-advised to me when we can increase the available flow for sewer, for not only those 53 homes, but for the homes that will be built in the future," Faubion said.

He thinks the city could save only $80,000 by going through Augusta Drive, not necessarily $100,000.

More information

Smith indicated that he thinks $80,000 in savings would be significant. He agreed with Gard that if there was any opportunity to save any amount of money, the city should explore that avenue.

"It kind of disheartens me that some council members would think that $80,000 is chump change or $100,000 is chump change," Smith said. "And that we would treat the public's pocket book different then we would treat our own."

He said there was not "adequate" information when the council voted to advertise the project two weeks before. The move to advertise was approved 3-2 earlier in February when council members Larson and Cannan had not yet been sworn in. Also during that earlier meeting, the council approved a budget amendment to help find funding for the project, which is part of the Wyoming Department of Transportation Urban Systems Program.

The city's reconstruction of the Riverview Road and Hill Street intersection also is part of the program.

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Riverton City Council