The general consensus of the neighborhoods, collectively known as Grimes Bridge Parkways, is to put the tank where the water resources division and operations area for recreation and parks are now, said Seth Freedman, one of the spokespersons for the group.
The other two options unveiled at a work session earlier this month would place the tank at or right next to a softball field in Waller Park, making it the park’s most prominent feature, Freedman said.
“Please decide wisely, as once this tank is constructed, we won’t be able to relocate it. If placed in the park, it will forever define it as ‘Water Tank Park,’ regardless of any official name,” Freedman told city council members at the workshop. “Please decide to place the tank in the utility and operations area where it belongs.”
The new $16.2 million plant will replace the existing water plant on Dobbs Drive. The storage tank has to be elevated above the plant to allow for optimum gravitational flow of water to the processing facility, and there are only three sites that would fulfill that requirement, according to city consultants who reviewed all possible locations.
Replacing up to 12 feet of soil that is inadequate for the tank foundation and relocating the water resources and park operations areas could cost as much as $970,000, consultants estimated.
Costs for building it on the other sites near a Waller Park softball field might come to hundreds of thousands less, but the tank would be squarely in the public eye, residents said.
“The great variability in cost estimates over the last year does not provide a compelling basis to make a decision that the community unanimously opposes,” Freedman told council members.
Last week, Freedman said it should be made clear that the Grimes Bridge Parkways community isn’t asking the city “to pull an extra half million dollars out of the general fund to do this project well. It will be paid for by water customers, and be just a few coins more on each bill. And that’s only if it actually costs more than the options that damage the park.”
At least one council member supports the residents’ choice. Kent Igleheart said he has always favored putting the tank there.
“Depending on the actual placement, based on further geotechnical results, the tank could impact both water and rec and park operations. However, I have also always believed improved operational efficiencies can reduce the amount of space actually needed and that additional operational space can be utilized within Waller Park,” he said.
Actual costs are still being determined, he said, “and I think the difference in cost between the park and the yard locations will ultimately be relatively minor. Even if the yard location turns out to cost somewhat more, the long-term value to the park and surrounding neighborhoods will be well worth it. Given our focus on Groveway, this whole area should become a prime amenity for current and new residents.”
The consultant’s findings and all public input that has been taken will be considered at the Feb. 12 meeting of the public works committee. Council members are expected to take an official vote on the tank location at their Feb. 25 regular meeting.