Officials unsure who owns water-damaged street 6/7/13

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 7, 2013

Officials unsure who owns water-damaged street

By John Howell

Batesville’s mayor and aldermen at their Tuesday meeting heard input on issues ranging from drainage problems at Tri-Lakes Medical Center to recommendations on how to stabilize and improve the appearance of the brick wall exposed following the city’s demolition of the old service station building on the Square.

They met upstairs at City Hall, yielding the more spacious downstairs meeting room for Ward Four voters casting ballots in the municipal election. One decision finalized during the meeting will soon alter significantly the way the city does business: purchase of the automatic water meter reading system.
Aldermen voted unanimously to accept the $1,094,975.43 bid from Delta Water, a Hammond, La. contractor specializing in water conserving systems. City officials began their move to implement automated water meters about five years ago, city engineer Blake Mendrop said. The city rejected bids on automated meters last year, but re-advertised earlier this year, specifying installation experience as one of the components for consideration in the award decision.

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The purchase will be paid from a loan through the State Department of Health’s State Drinking Water Revolving Fund, Mendrop said, at less than two percent interest. The city had originally been approved for a $1 million loan from the state’s revolving fund with $250,000 of the repayment forgiven, Mendrop said. The engineer told the mayor and aldermen that an additional loan of $250,000 would be sought from the Department of Health to cover the cost of the entire project.

Aldermen gave their approval, contingent on receipt of the additional loan from the State Department of Health.

Tri-Lakes Medical Center Administrator Wes Sigler joined Mendrop to discuss with city officials problems that storm water runoff had created at the east campus facility.

Sigler described the watershed whose runoff collects in an area near the northwest corner of hospital property.

“Big concrete culverts (are) all up under the street,” he said, but feed into large plastic pipe, “which is collapsing.”  The plastic pipe extends under hospital property to a concrete culvert and street on the south side of the hospital near a parking lot. Rushing water has washed a “huge crevasse” at the edge of the street, Sigler said. Barriers have been placed to prevent motorists from using the street.

“From our research, … I couldn’t find where the road had been dedicated in the past,” Mendrop said. “I haven’t determined exactly who needs to do what, to be honest, because I’m not real sure that’s a city street.”

Mendrop said that a city water line and a sewer line run underground alongside the street.
Mayor Jerry Autrey asked Mendrop and assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell to meet with Sigler to determine what assistance the city can provide.

Sigler said that the hospital has spent $175,000 to date in an attempt to correct problems created by the collapsing pipe and storm water erosion.

Batesville Main Street Manager Colleen Clark and Main Street Committee representative Angela Clanton met with city officials to make recommendations about the wall exposed by the demolition of the old service station building at the Eureka Street entrance to the Square.

Clanton is an artist and designer who assists with Main Street projects including architectural renderings of building improvements on the downtown Square.

“There is an original piece of construction and then four additions and the materials are varied between different types of brick and concrete block,” Clanton said.

She said that one option is a clear coating with a tint that would allow the original material to remain visible. Another option would be covering the wall with stucco and creating a surface that would allow a mural, she said.

“Right now, it’s about the wall, making sure it’s sound in terms of water not being able to enter into that surface, and what are we going to do for longevity, for a beautification issue in our downtown,” Clanton said.

Clanton said that preparation work might require stabilizing footings at the base of the wall.
Attorney Mitchell said that he would talk with Mickey Aldridge, representative of building owner Polk and Company, to learn his position on further work on the outside wall of his building.
“It would be easier for both parties to agree,” Mitchell said. “It needs to be worked out.”