Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

January 3, 2013

City government gearing up for a big 2013

Rob Cox
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — In 2013, Greensburg city government will be tackling a number of critical projects, some of them having been in the works for several years.

On Thursday afternoon, Mayor Gary Herbert and a number of department heads sat down with the Daily News at City Hall to provide an outline of government plans for 2013.

Water and Wastewater Office Manager Donna M. Lecher and Water Superintendent Rick Denney said their department’s major project in 2013 will be the addition of Radio Read Meters for water and waste water billing of the city’s water utility customers.

The city’s water department currently has about 4,000 customers, according to Lecher. The city plans to replace the current reading devices in those homes with Radio Read Meters and hopes to have those installations completed by Fall.

“That’s not set in stone, though,” Lecher added.

Herbert hailed the efficiency of the new units, stressing that customer rates won’t be raised with the new system.

He further explained that water utility rates to pay for the upgrade were slightly increased in 2007. The increased revenue has been saved each month since to pay for the new systems.

The mayor added that the new readers, unlike the majority of current readers, can be read remotely, saving manpower hours for the city and reducing overall costs.

The new readers can also be read year-round, whereas most current units can’t be read in temperatures of 20 degrees or less, Lecher said.

A supplier of the new readers, along with pricing for the entire packages have yet to be determined, Denny added.

According to Denney, Lecher, Greensburg Fire Department (GFD) Chief Scott Chasteen and Herbert, the city will also upgrade its waterline system in 2013.

The primary, 12-inch main piping used in the current system, Herbert explained, extends around the city in a semi-circle, causing a potential problem with outages in certain areas in the event of a severe leak or other emergency due to a lack of system redundancy.

The system upgrade, Chasteen added, will extend the current piping into a complete circle around the city, allowing for redundancy and a significantly decreased chance of water outages around the city.

Also in 2013, the GFD will complete its purchase of a new fire engine. The new engine has a 77-foot ladder, Chasteen said, whereas the department’s current engine is a 1979 model with a 55-foot ladder.

According to Chasteen, the department saved a total of $50,000 on the purchase both by buying outright and by buying through the Houston-Galveston Area Consortium (HGAC).

Herbert described such a purchasing consortium as a “kind of Sam’s Club.” Chasteen agreed with that assessment, adding that the HGAC is simply a way in which communities combine resources to purchase equipment in bulk, thereby consortium member costs on large purchases.

Chasteen added that the department was able to purchase the vehicle without financing through the city’s “Cumulative Fire Fund,” which is generated through property taxes.

Chasteen added that he was pleased with a recent upgrade in the ISO rating of both the city of Greensburg and Washington Township.

According to the chief, ISO ratings are used by insurance companies to determine homeowner insurance rates for fire protection. On the ISO ratings scale, a 1 is best and a 10 is worst.

Greensburg, he added, improved from a 5 ISO rating to a 4, while Washington Township improved from a 9 to an 8b.

Wastewater Superintendent Jeff Smith said that his department will oversee completion of construction on a new administration building in early 2013. Smith expects the project — which started in April and whose planning stages stretch back to 2006 — to be completed within 60 days.

Street Commissioner Mark Klosterkemper told the Daily News that the final touches on one of 2012’s biggest projects — the Gas Creek Watershed Project — will be completed in 2013.

Storm water retention facilities within the watershed will help prevent flooding by collecting large amounts of drainage water (more than 30 million gallons) much more quickly than it’s released, Klosterkemper explained.

Also in 2013, according to Klosterkemper, the city expects to oversee the installation of an automated traffic signal at North Michigan Avenue at the Honda Associate entrance.

Klosterkemper added he expects the light to be directing traffic sometime between April 1 and May 1. He stressed, however, that the date could change depending on weather conditions, which will impact the construction schedule.

The street department also hopes to perform significant changes to the intersection at Vandalia Road and Michigan Avenue in 2013, Klosterkemper added. That project will include completely eliminating the turn at Vandalia and Michigan and horizontally re-aligning Vandalia Road.

The city will also replace bridge 188 on Vandalia Road, according to Klosterkemper (nicknamed peanut hill bridge by some), making it wider and less prone to flooding.

Herbert’s most ambitious 2013 project is unlikely to actually get underway this year, although the mayor anticipates laying significant groundwork for a project his described as “vitally important to the city of Greensburg.”

With the Veteran’s Way construction project, Herbert envisions the building of a new east-to-west highway running through the city from “just east of the Hampton Inn” to an outlet between Burger King and MainSource Bank on Lincoln Avenue.

The naming of the new roadway, the mayor said, has been approved by the city’s TIFF board. Now the project awaits final approval for phase I of an anticipated three-phase construction process.

When finally approved, the project’s first phase will be paid for by the city in hopes INDOT will step in for the latter phases.

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.