Council approves $400K irrigation project

Friday, October 13, 2017

The most controversial project in the city’s five-year capital project plan passed Tuesday night, but not without opposition.

The council approved a contract worth just more than $406,000 to replace the irrigation system at the city’s Ewell Butler golf course.

Councilmen split a 3-to-2 vote approving the project.

“I do believe we need to update it, but I have no support from the majority of my constituents,” said Councilman Nicholas Tipper, before voting against approval of the contract.

Councilman Artie Allen also voted against approval, with Steve Thomas, C.H. Harwell, and Jerry Gordon voting in favor.

Last year, the city asked all of the department heads to provide a list of capital projects that would have to be addressed during that time period.

The list submitted covered HVAC units that would have to be replaced to major renovations at city facilities.

The current irrigation system at the golf course dates from 1971 and is at the end of its effective service life.

Cary Whitesell, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, the department spends thousands of dollars in payroll and repairs trying to keep the system functioning.

For the last fiscal year, the golf course provided more than $111,000 in revenue for the city.

Approval of the contract required the single vote because funding for the project had already been approved.

The city obtained a $3 million line of credit to finance the capital projects as they were approved and scheduled over the five-year period.

The capital projects included $200,000 in each of the five years budgeted for road paving in the city as well as $600,000 estimated for the renovation of the city’s main fire hall.

The city estimated projects on the high side in their planning. The irrigation system was estimated at $600,000.

Eric Bischoff from the city’s engineering consultant, OHM Advisors, briefed the council on the process.

The three main suppliers of golf course irrigation systems were prequalified, with Toro being chosen as the best system to use by a unanimous vote.

Three installation contractors were prequalified based on their experience and expertise with the Toro system and bid packets sent out.

Department reports were brief, the upcoming Goats, Music, and More Festival dominating the city’s focus at the moment.

Director of Public Works Buck Beard told the council that the city’s part of the Yell Road repaving project was complete and that the project should be finished once the weather cleared up.