W.P. Council Scales Back Cardinal Lake Dam Repairs
By Tom Embrey
In an effort to cut costs, the Whispering Pines Council is again scaling back the proposed repair plan for Cardinal Lake dam.
During its regular meeting Tuesday, the council asked village engineer John Eddy to modify his repair plan to remove a road across the dam. This is the second time in two months that council has requested changes to the design to cut costs.
"I would hesitate to be more specific, but it could be tens of thousands of dollars," Eddy said of the potential cost savings of removing the road and redesigning the dam.
Councilman Randy Saunders proposed removing the road.
"One of the reasons I brought this up is right now we are not really paving roads in the village so ... if we can get that kind of savings, I say go for it," Saunders said.
During the discussion, Councilman Skip Gebhardt asked Eddy that if he was spending his own money to repair the dam, could he find other cost savings with the current plans.
Eddy told him there wasn't much else he could do, without starting the process over.
"We are at the lowest point we can go with respect to the design standards," Eddy said.
Eddy also reminded the council that it needed to be careful, because cutting capital costs now could mean higher maintenance or repair costs in the future.
Mayor Bob Zschoche did not attend the council meeting.
Repairing Cardinal Lake Dam has been a slow, evolving process. Negotiations had been ongoing since the state ordered Whispering Woods to repair the dam or breach it.
In October 2007, after more than 18 months of negotiations, the Village Council, the owners of Whispering Woods Golf Club and residents living near the dam reached an agreement to repair it. The council voted to approve the deal in December 2007.
That deal calls for the village to pay the up-front cost of the repairs and to take ownership of the dam and the surrounding spillway ponds. In turn, Whispering Woods will pay $84,000 over 15 years - $5,600 annually - and give the village land valued at $34,000. The golf course also receives an easement to use water from Cardinal Lake and its surrounding pond for irrigation.
The deal was contingent upon residents who live around the dam paying $28,000 toward the repair costs, leaving the village to pay the rest. At the time of the original deal, the remaining amount of the repair was estimated at $112,000. The original repair cost, as estimated by Eddy, was $224,000. Since that deal, the village has obtained a grant for $180,000 to help pay for the repairs.
Over time, the cost of repairing the dam has only gone up, leaving the village to bear the brunt of the expense. In Novem-ber, the council voted to have Eddy redesign and rebid the project after the lowest bid came back at $671,000. Eddy has said he expected the original bid to come back somewhere near $500,000. On Tuesday, he called the wide discrepancy between his estimate and the bids "an anomaly."
Eddy redesigned the project, removing the road and guard rail system from atop the dam, but allowing infrastructure so that a road could be put in at a later date.
Other modifications included using a lower design standard for one of the stormwater ponds.
Eddy estimated those changes would save about $20,000 initially but could be costly in the future.
"In the long term, that change will probably cost the village more money over time because there will be more maintenance costs if the dam is overtopped or damaged," he said.
That new plan has been submitted to state agencies for regulatory approval.
Redesigning the project, Eddy said, likely would not delay the project substantially.
A dam without a road was one of the original repair options offered to council back in 2007. Zschoche and Saunders are the only two members remaining from that council.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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