Water project moving forward, city selects interim financier

Phase one of the upcoming water project in New England took another step Monday, Jan. 5 as the city council chose an institution for its interim financing need.

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By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

Phase one of the upcoming water project in New England took another step Monday, Jan. 5 as the city council chose an institution for its interim financing need. The council voted unanimously to go with American Bank Center for the financing.

Though the city has been approved for funding through the USDA, the funds are only provided when the project is completed.

But until then, there are still bills that need to be paid.

“The interim financing allows us to pay the bills that are accruing right now,” City Auditor Jason Jung said.

The council wanted to go with someone local, so they approached both American Bank Center and Dakota Western Credit Union. Since Mayor Marty Opdahl has a vested interest as an employee of American Bank Center, Jung lead the way in investigating the financing terms of each institution.

“After we got the bids in, I turn it over to Jason to retain my neutrality, because I do work for American Bank Center,” Opdah said.

Though both options featured similar terms, American Bank Center’s terms allow the city to withdraw money as it needs it.

This is going to allow the city to only be charged interest on the balance, instead of taking out the total amount all at once.

“American Bank Center would let us take draws of money out, so we wouldn’t have to pay interest on the full amount,” Jung said. “Interest savings is why we decided to go with them.”

At this point, the city has done what it needs to in order to keep the process going, now it’s just waiting for everything to get to the point of bidding out the project.

“We pretty much have everything in place that we needed to approve and do, and now it’s just letting the process play out,” Jung said.

Right now Moore Engineering is currently in the design process.

According to Cavin Berube, Project Engineer with Moore Engineering, they’re figuring out exactly where the locations of the water main replacements will take place.

The first phase is going to be predominantly water main replacement, and after the design is finished, they’ll head toward bidding out the work.

“Right now we’re working on the design process to get a plan set together so we can bid it out, our hope is that we can bid it right at the end of February,” Berube said.

By that timeline, Berube is hoping that shovels can be in the ground by the time the frost is gone this spring, but ultimately the contracting company will decide that timeline.

Though the design is getting closer to the finish line, Berube said it can still be fluid, especially as they gather the total budget they will be working with.

“Ultimately it’s just figuring out what we can fit into the budget and what the city wants us to do with that budget,” Berube said. “We’re talking with the city pretty consistently.”

Right now a big issue facing Berube and the engineers at Moore Engineering is figuring out what to do with the roads when the work on the water system is done.

They’ve already had surveyors out around town to determine the quality of the roads. This will allow them to understand the condition and how much will need to be replaces or repaired after the work is done.

When asked if he thought this was the biggest hurdle right now, Berube said, “yeah, it probably is.”

Though residence should see an improvement after phase one of the project, Berube said since the water system is one working unit, it will be a gradual improvement as the city works through the different phases.

Replacing the antiquated portions of the system is going to be made in baby steps with the smaller parts getting fixed first. This, according to Berube, is necessary because the current system wouldn’t be able to hold larger improvements before the smaller parts are replaced.

Looking back at the beginning stages of the project, Mayor Opdahl said he’s satisfied with how smooth the process has gone, and he credits the work of Moore Engineering and how they’ve worked with the city each step of the way.

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