CARBONDALE — Two Carbondale City Council agenda items that appeared pro forma — a consent vote on a sewer inflow and infiltration study and an approval of a site plan for the new fire station — drew significant discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.
The sewer discussion focused on competition and cost for the $167,286 study to identify ways to reduce excess flows in the system during heavy rains. The back and forth on the fire station was spurred by how the city approaches its oft-stated goals of incorporating sustainability and renewable energy into construction.
The bond-funded new fire station, which will be in the 400 block of North Glenview Drive, would serve the city’s west side. Everybody agreed the project was necessary, but Councilman Lance Jack wondered why plans submitted to the city did not include items such as geothermal heat and solar panels.
Jack was frustrated because the fire station and the already completed Public Safety Center did not meet the council’s previously expressed desire to see more green energy options.
“At some point, something has to change,” Jack said.
Councilmen Don Monty and Jane Adams also said they would like to see more sustainable energy sources worked into plans.
Mayor Joel Fritzler said designers’ hands are tied because of project funding limits imposed by council votes.
Public Works Director Sean Henry echoed Fritzler, saying tight budgets mean more expensive sustainable energy options often get cut. City Manager Kevin Baity said the site had enough green space to add those projects in the future.
The site plan was unanimously approved.
The sanitary sewer discussion focused on a lack of requests for proposal from numerous firms and where the sewer testing would take place.
Monty said because only one firm was involved — St. Louis’ RJN Group — planners may not “sharpen their pencils to find the lowest price.”
Henry said RJN Group was recommended by other municipalities, and Baity said the firm would allow city workers to participate in some testing to save the city money.
Tests will be conducted on the city’s northwest side, west of U.S. 51 and north of West Sycamore Street. There will also be manhole metering in high-flow areas.
The council also amended city ordinances to require hearings and council approval for real estate transfers of $1,000 or less. Previously, the mayor was allowed to transfer those properties without council approval.
Fritzler said he had always been against the practice and he was one of five council members approving the change.
Councilmen Chris Wissmann and Corene McDaniel voted against the amended ordinance because the few properties to which it would apply are often misshaped and generally valueless.
Monty said his concern was for property owners abutting or near parcels to be transferred for little or no money.
The Carbondale City Council meets again at 7 p.m. Oct. 23.
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