Mar 302012

By Teri Walker —

Citing citizen inquiries on the topic, Holbrook Vice Mayor Charlie Haussman asked City Manager Ray Alley at this week’s city council meeting to explain some of the preparations city staff are undertaking in anticipation of potential growth from potash mining.

Alley obliged by quickly rattling off a list of projects the city has underway:

* The revised sewer system model is nearly complete. Alley said the city will hire a camera firm to find nine manholes that still need to be explored before the city will have a complete picture of the entire sewer system and where potential bottlenecks may be. Once the mapping and analysis is complete, the city will prepare a plan for addressing spots in the system that have the potential to become overloaded, should there be additional strain on the system caused by residential and commercial growth. Alley expects the plan to be complete within the next few months.

* Two new wells are slated to come on line in the next year to provide additional municipal water sources. A well on McLaws Road should be pumping water into city pipes within the next couple of weeks, and another well is planned for Sun Valley. Staff will be bringing a request for the Sun Valley well to the city council for approval as part of the 2012-13 budget planning process. The well would be drilled next year.

* Alley said he’s continuing the emphasis on upgrading and maintaining the city’s parks and recreation facilities. Resurfacing basketball courts, fencing tennis courts and the city skate park, upgrading lighting at park facilities and improving ball fields are all efforts aimed at making sure the community has quality recreation offerings, Alley said. Chief among the improvements to recreation facilities is the extensive overhaul of the city pool facilities, which users will get their first glimpse of when the pool opens in May. Alley said he is also working on plans to see if it’s possible to have a diving board installed this year.

“We’ve heard a lot from the community about the desire for a diving board, so we’re seeing what we can do,” he said.

* Clearing derelict buildings and rundown properties is a continuing emphasis. Alley said, “We’ve abated 25 to 30 old buildings and 50 to 70 percent of those lots are now available to build on. They already have utilities…they’re ready to go.

“We’re cleaning up our own house.”

* Alley also discussed increased interest in Holbrook by developers, and the city’s efforts to entice businesses to land here. He said he’s in talks with a developer considering a 60 to 70-unit subdivision, and another company that would like to open a mill to create pallets and other wood products, should the Four Forest Restoration Initiative thinning contracts be awarded.

“We try to help these guys find reasons to work here,” said Alley. “We’re not going to break the rules, we’re not going to bend the rules, but we are going to convenience them any way we can.”

* Finally, Alley pointed to the ongoing road reconstruction as a major part of the city’s infrastructure upgrading. Street crews will be working in the area of 12th Avenue for the next three to four months.

In other business, the council approved a resolution authorizing the refinancing of the wastewater treatment plant loans, which the city will be paying through 2020.

The refinancing will drop the loan interest rates from 3.7 percent to 2.8 percent, and generate a savings of nearly $60,000, without extending the life of the loan. The city is taking the majority of the interest savings, $57,217, in the first year, with remaining years seeing a reduction in the annual payment ranging from $64 to $878.

Looking ahead to the next council meeting, Alley said council and staff members would be discussing goals and ideas for the Hidden Cove Park (also known as Petroglyph Park) project. Council members toured the park this week and expressed the desire to see a plan for developing the park as a community and tourism attraction.