Water was the main topic of the Marlinton Town Council meeting Monday night – repairing leaks caused by the recent cold weather and planning for the future.
Mayor Joe Smith reported to the council that the town water system had suffered another major loss of water last week due to a break in a six-inch water line just behind Dories’ Restaurant on Ninth Street. That led to another Boil and Conserve Water Advisory for town residents.
In addition to dealing with water issues, the mayor reported that the town crew is also dealing with a major sewer problem on 13th Avenue – on Hamilton Hill. The crew had worked all day Monday and would resume work there on Tuesday morning.
In a phone conversation with the mayor on Tuesday morning, he reported that the problem on Hamilton Hill has been resolved.
“The month of January has been very costly for the town,” Smith said. “The snow and frozen water pipes has required a lot of overtime.”
While the town deals with current water problems and issues, the council continues to look forward with plans to revamp the water plant and improve waterlines and hydrants in the downtown area.
Dunn Engineers, Inc. president Wayne Hypes and vice-president Frederick Hypes presented their company’s report and proposal to the council.
“You have some issues at the facility that need to be addressed,” Wayne said. “We’ve checked everything from the intake all the way through the facility. The intake may not be the most up-to-date, but it works well. The issues that we found are not failures yet. If refurbished, you will get a lot of life out it. The building, inside and out, is in good shape.”
The engineers reported that the lab at the water plant is also in good shape and has been cared for by the operators.
The council was given three alternatives: 1) Do nothing and fail. 2) Upgrade the plant at a cost of $1.7 to $1.75 million. 3) Demolish the plant and build a new one which would cost between $4 and $5 million.
An additional proposal called for sandblasting and painting the #1 water tank at the cemetery and taking down tank #2 which is not in service at this time. That tank would be replaced with a new 100,000 gallon tank at the same location.
The team also recommended replacing the four-inch water lines that feed the town’s fire hydrants with minimum six-inch pipe. As
that work is done, lines and meters to each of the homes would be replaced, as well. Replacing those lines would cut down on the amount of water lost. The project calls for 8,800 feet of new pipe.
As a bonus for those improvements, homeowners’ insurance rates should decrease, Wayne said.
The town has suffered water loss as high as 72 percent, but recently that has been reduced to 40 percent, the mayor said. The town crew had planned to run another check on water usage and loss with the hope that the loss would be less than 40 percent, but the break in the six-inch line last weekend put that plan on the back burner.
The alarm system for the water tanks is now in the mayor’s office. The engineers suggested a program by which water usage and loss could be monitored on the Internet – anywhere and at any time.
The estimated cost of repairing and replacing tanks, hydrants, lines and meters is $3.3 million. The two projects, including contingency fees, engineering, accounting and legal costs, would total about $7.3 million.
If the council approves the recommendations, a search for funding will begin. If everything should fall into place, it would be 15 to 18 months before construction could begin.
In other business the council
• Scheduled its next meeting for March 10 so the budget can be approved without the need for a special meeting.
• Was advised that a new fire alarm system had been installed in the municipal building
• Is awaiting clarification on the ownership of the vacant lot next to the Opera House
• Tabled approval of members of the Planning Committee
•Approved the hiring of another town employee
• Heard a report from the Urban Deer Hunt Committee about the initial review of sites
The council meets again Monday, March 10, in council chambers.
Although it was not discussed at the council meeting, several residents have asked about the flashing traffic lights in downtown Marlinton. The caution lights flash on Main Street, while the side street lights flash red.
“The lights went bad the right way,” Smith said. “There is a problem in the switching relay. It wasn’t planned, it just happened that the lights started flashing yellow on Main Street and red on the side streets.”
Someone from the Department of Highways in Charleston will have to fix the lights.
“When the technician is available and they have the right piece, the lights will be fixed,” Smith said.
In the meantime, for their safety, drivers should use caution – which is what the yellow light means. Red means “stop.”
Near misses have been reported due to the fact that some drivers are invoking the rules of a four-way stop.
These are not four-way stops.
Drivers traveling through Main Street have the right-of-way.
Jaynell Graham may be contacted at jsgraham@poc ahontastimes.com