Williston Council discusses goals, master plans

Williston Town Council was presented with the results of two master plans as they discussed goals during a Feb. 2 retreat.

Mayor Jason Stapleton along with council members Eric Moody, Adadra Neville, Kurt Odermatt, Annie Tyler, Scott Valentine and Brett Williams met at Meeting on Main for a morning full of updates, ideas and setting goals for the town’s future. Administrator Kenny Cook and Utilities Director Marty Martin were also present.

“We’ve made a lot of progress these last few years,” said Stapleton.

Of the 25 goals for 2017-2018, 11 had either been completed or had some improvements made. This includes performing the sewer master plan, landscaping the town hall grounds, replacing an air conditioner at the fire department, purchasing a backhoe, purchasing two police cars with a grant, raising water rates to bring the town closer in line with other towns to help with a shortfall, reorganizing the water and wastewater treatment operation, converting to a uniform business license, and selling surplus equipment at auction, according to a list provided to The People-Sentinel.

A number of other goals are ongoing, such as continuing sewer and water line right of way, reducing energy costs at wastewater treatment plant, bringing town buildings into ADA compliance, removing derelict buildings, and promoting strategies to promote the town.

The retreat was a way to build on that progress, including setting new goals.

Sewer Upgrades

Implementing parts of the sewer master plan tops the list of goals for the future set by Cook.

Consulting engineer Troy Began presented the town’s sewer system master plan. He complimented the council for being proactive in having the master plan done because it evaluates the system’s present conditions and helps the town identify areas to improve. It also complements the water master plan the town did last year.

“It goes a long way in helping you plan for the future,” said Began.

The study shows the town has capacity at the wastewater treatment plant for further growth in the event the population grows or new industries come to town. He said the system is currently operating at approximately one-third capacity.

As a result of the study, Began made several recommendations, including manhole mapping, manhole inspection and closed-circuit television video inspection of the main sewer pipe.

Many of the town’s wastewater facilities are reaching the end of their useful life, he said. Most facilities were built in 1985, but the average lifespan is 15 to 20 years due to the “harsh environment”.

Began recommended the town establish an asset replacement or rebuild schedule over the next 20 years by evaluating several conditions, such as age and condition of equipment. He also provided council with a cost estimate of $3,059,172 for projects at the wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system. These projects can be done over time. He said the cost is merely an estimate, so the actual cost could be more or less.

Cook included some of the projects in his goals, but others will be more long-term goals.

“I feel we have a good five-year plan to keep us moving forward,” said Cook, who included some projects on his list of goals.

This includes dredging ponds at the wastewater treatment plant for the first time in several years, repairing liners at the plant, replacing influent pumps at the plant, right of way clearing, and reducing energy costs. One of the costlier long-term projects is repairing and replacing sewer lines and manholes at an estimated cost of $1,410,500.

On a related note, there are five water projects listed to help improve the town’s water quality, including replacing the Halford Street filtrating system for $160,000. Cook is hopeful to get another grant to purchase utility trucks in 2018 and 2019. Though Williston is still cheaper than other towns their size, town officials said they are not advocating for another rate hike like they did last year.

Parks Plan

Another goal is to discuss how to implement the master parks plan, including what projects can be done soon versus those that are long-term projects.

“The master plan is really just more of a roadmap,” said Will Buchanan, a civil engineer and partner with Johnson, Laschober & Associates, P.C.

Buchanan provided renderings of how the parks could look and estimates for work. All costs provided are merely estimates, so the cost could be higher or lower if council proceeds with getting bids.

At Williston Town Park, several upgrades are proposed in the plan, such as a pavilion and concession stand area to address the current lack of concession space. Other ideas include playground expansion, new signs, fishing piers and water features at the ponds, bleachers, a disc golf course, gravel path, sidewalks, and asphalt parking. The total estimated cost is $820,110.50.

Adding a Veterans Memorial Plaza at the town park’s entrance is also included at a cost of $86,526.

“I like that this draws attention to the park opening” which is easy to miss, said Councilwoman Neville of the plan.

The rail trail was also part of the plan, including fountain upgrades, adding concrete sidewalks, removing some parking to expand the park area, and landscaping. The plan also includes landscaping improvements at intersections and extending the current trail from the proposed Veterans Plaza to the Crane plant intersection.

A new feature proposed for the trail at the intersection of Elko and Church streets is a museum to house the town’s historic Old Glory fire truck. This would include a building with glass rollup doors, concrete sidewalk, landscaping, and a crosswalk. Some funding would be available from the fire department, which has held fundraisers in recent years.

The total rail trail project is estimated at $513,095.

The third part of the plan is the Academy Street Park, including new asphalt, sidewalks, pavilion, restrooms, fencing for a dog park, detention pond, and landscaping on the park side. Total cost is estimated at $850,515.60. On the library side, the plan includes $466,372.50 to extend the driveway from the library to Academy Street, additional parking, pavilion, playground, light poles, and landscaping. Buchanan said the plan is the “Cadillac version”, but costs can be reduced. For example, a pavilion was included on each side of the park, but they would likely just need one.

Councilman Moody said he’s heard from many residents about the lack of baseball practice space in town. The Academy Street Park plans include practice space.

One priority project is repairing the exterior of the library/museum building, which is part of the Academy Street Park plan.

As far as funding these projects, the town included $375,000 in park upgrades in the projects funded by the eight-year 1 percent capital sales tax passed by county voters in 2016. The town also has some grant money but is pursuing more grants. Stapleton said the master plan could help with grants since it shows they have a vision.

Other Goals

Other goals include making town buildings ADA compliant, an overall facilities maintenance discussion, purchasing two more police vehicles, building up financial reserves, updating the zoning ordinance, and continuing to support the STEM Festival.

One long-term goal is to renovate or replace the town hall/fire department building because the current building has a number of issues, including with plumbing, said Stapleton.

No action was taken. Council members have a chance to add in their own goals before voting on the goals at a future meeting.