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Residents voice concerns about wastewater plant

MORRISON – Dianah Young doesn’t want to lose the park where she takes her two daughters once or twice a week. 

She came to the city’s open house Thursday evening to learn about the three options the city is considering for a new wastewater treatment plant in or around Waterworks Park.

Young, who lives on Hickory Hills Drive, is worried about losing the neighborhood park where she takes Leah, 3, and Faith, 1. A much-used dog park will be gone as well, when the new plant is built, she said.

She also worries about the new plant being a too-tall “eyesore” that will hurt the value of her home.

“We just moved there 6 months ago,” she said. “This isn’t very nice to hear.”

About 70 people came to the open house at Odell Public Library where representatives from Baxter & Woodman of Crystal Lake, which is designing upgrades for the plant, were on hand to present information and answer questions.

Of the three proposed configurations, the option that would put the plant at the greatest distance from homes also would be the most expensive, council member Dave Rose said.

It would put the plant on grounds owned by the Whiteside County fair board and used for parking during fairs. The city would have to buy the land, which would be costly, he said.

Another problem with that option, known as the “south option” is that it is on a landfill, he said.

The other two configurations bring the plant closer to homes but would cost less, he said.

“We want to find a compromise between the least offensive and the most cost-effective site plans,” he said.

Vern Tervelt, 70, who lives on Fairway Drive, also near the park, was one of several Morrison residents who complained that they have not had as much input on the issue as they would like.

“I think the people of Morrison have had no input until now,” he said. “The decision’s been made. It’s going to be built in one of two locations, and neither one is going to make the neighborhood happy.”

City Administrator Jim Wise said the public is welcome to comment at council meetings or to call him. The council has been discussing the issue in open meetings since January, he said.

Curt Bender, 54, lives in the 500 block of South Orange St. He said he is concerned most with the increase in cost estimates. At one point, the project was estimated to cost $12.8 million, and now the estimates have topped $16 million, he said.

Chris Buckley, Baxter’s project engineer, said the estimates increased because the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency sent the city a letter ordering it to repair sewer overflow problems that have occurred during storms and led to sewers overflowing into Rock Creek.

Part of the solution for the problem, Buckley said, is to build a pond that, during heavy storms – which happen about six times a year – would fill up with rainwater mixed with sewage, he said. Some pipes also need to be replaced with bigger, non-leaking pipes, he said.

The city will apply for a grant from IEPA through its revolving loan program to help pay for the plant project, Wise said, but the design must be complete before the application is made.

“This is a dream,” Wise said.

The project actually will cost about $18 million. Wise hopes to get a low-interest IEPA loan to completely fund the project, which the city would repay over 20 years, he said.

In 2009, when the city administration believed it would need only $5 million in sewer improvements, a sewer rates hike was implemented. A rate analysis will have to be conducted to figure out what the rates will need to be to pay off a 20-year loan, he said.

According to information on display Thursday, work will take from spring 2014 until the end of 2015, if the project is funded in the IEPA’s fiscal year 2014. If not, construction will begin in October 2014 and end by October 2016.

Three plant options

Waterworks Park, on the southeast side of Morrison, will be the site of the wastewater treatment plant in Morrison. The park is bordered by Rock Creek, Hickory Hill Drive, Fairway Drive, and Winfield Street.

The city is considering three site plans for the plant:

The most cost-effective plan, according to Alderman Dave Rose, is one that would put the plant on the site of Little League baseball fields that the league now uses only for practice. It's the cheapest option because it would sit among infrastructure already in use for the current sewage plant, he said. The plan would require the baseball diamond to be removed and it would put the plant close to houses, Rose said.

A second option would be to build a pond to the west of the current plant. The pond would fill up about six times a year during heavy rainfalls with a mixture of sewage and rainwater. This option would affect fewer residents than the first option, but would still affect those in the southwest corner of town. This option would cost at least $16 million, said Chris Buckley, project manager with Baxter & Woodman.

The "south option" would put the plant on land that is not currently owned by the city but by the Whiteside County fair board. The land, southeast of Waterworks Park, is used for parking during the fairs. It is also the site of a landfill. The city would have to pay for the land, so this option would cost at least $16 million as well, Buckley said.


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