Archive for Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Public works facilities to be on new land

July 31, 2002

Baldwin City Council members had already decided a new power plant was needed, but they just needed some land on which to build it.

The council got its land when it approved the purchase of 45.6 acres south of Orange Street from Nancy Richard for $294,000 on July 16. As part of the purchase agreement, the city will have annual payments of $36,480 with 5 percent interest for 10 years for a total of $364,800.

"They knew that they had to move toward building new generation facilities and they had to have a place to put that," City Administrator Larry Paine said.

Utility Director Terry McKinney said he and Assistant Utility Director Bill Winegar spent months looking at several land options.

"This 46-acre plot was by far the most economical site for the city to buy land for public works," McKinney said. "When looking at the best value for the city, you have to look at the cost of the land and the infrastructure, not just the cost of the land."

He said it won't cost the city as much in infrastructure expenses as other options because the 46 acres is adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant, where infrastructure already exists.

Plans show the area of land won't just be for the power plant, but will also be used for future additions like a public works building, office and storage area.

"This plan is the July 26 concept," Paine said. "In a month, a year, five years from now, it might not look quite like this. But there needs to be additional space in the future for public works."

McKinney said one of the benefits of purchasing the land is the consolidation of the future power plant and public works buildings and the already existing wastewater treatment plant.

"This right here is a very good move because it puts all the utilities in one spot," he said. "It's easier to control and it's more productive."

Not only will the city be able to monitor the current power plant from the new power plant, but he said staff will also be able to monitor the wastewater treatment plant and water system as well, with the possibility of eventually having 24-hour-a-day staffing.

He said the newly purchased land will also allow for more storage area.

"We currently don't have one area for all of our inventory and we are running out of lay-down area and storage for the city. It's not in a secure area," he said. "But this will allow us to put all our inventory in one area. That's what we're needing."

Current plans don't show development for the entire 46 acres. Paine said not all of the land can be developed for public works use because it is in a flood plain. The west side is a wooded area with Tauy Creek running through it.

"I don't see a plan for developing that property for anything other than green space," he said. "It'll end up being a buffer between governmental uses and development that will occur around it.

"Any developer must commit at least 10 percent of it for open space or park property," he said. "It's a little bit more than 10 percent, but it meets the overall objective as well."

Construction on the power plant should begin by the end of this year. McKinney said the city should get the power plant construction permit in October, the new generators in January and have the power plant in operation by July 2003.

He said even though it's not economical to move the current engines to the new plant, the city will continue to use them at the downtown location.

"Right now those engines are in very good shape," he said. "We will continue to use them until they do die."

Mayor Ken Hayes said eventually there will not be a power plant downtown, which was what the council wanted to accomplish with the 46-acre purchase.

"Redevelopment of downtown is also of primary importance," Hayes said. "We will be able to redevelop almost three quarters of a block downtown."

Even though there are no current plans for the block, he said Baldwin would benefit from the area.

"Long-range wise, it's a huge asset to the city to have a nice area downtown they could go to," he said.

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