From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):
“It truly is the right decision,” said Mayor Dean Brookie.
The remodel is necessary to ensure the plant can continue to meet water-quality regulations, as Durango continues to grow.
At the beginning of 2016, the city can now hire a company to design the sewer plant’s remodel, which will take about a year. Construction of the $58 million project will take about 18 months, said Mary Beth Miles, assistant to the city manager. The project needs to be finished to meet the Feb. 28, 2018, deadline when the state will review the plant’s permit.
The other $10 million in debt, approved by voters, will be used for sewer-related projects, not necessarily at the plant.
Without voter approval to finance the plant, the city would have had to look at emergency rate increases and cash financing the project, city councilors said.
“(The vote) averted a significant potential additional increase in sewer rates that would have been required to make interim improvements to the plant,” Brookie said…
The opposition group that pushed for a “no” vote hopes the council will revisit the alternative locations, including Cundiff Park, a site near Sawmill Road Site or combine with the South Durango Sanitation District, said Jon Broholm, who helped organize the opposition.
However, the group has not come to a consensus on which site would be best, he said.
The city council has already spent about $100,000 on engineering studies to research moving the plant and found insurmountable technical, environmental and financial challenges, Brookie said.
In addition, the few acres of park land that could be gained by moving the plant would cost more than all the open space purchased by the city over 20 years.
“What could go there that’s worth costing the taxpayers $20 million?” Brookie asked…
Improvements to the plant are underway to make sure it does not violate water-quality standards, said Steve Salka, utilities director.
Construction on a basin at the park that separates sludge from water was finished last week for less than the estimated $500,000, he said.
He also needs to build new aeration basins for about $5 million to meet the state’s standards for ammonia, a chemical that is toxic to fish.
If the construction was not completed by 2018, the city could potentially violate its permit every day, he said.