Public Works Committee waives purchase fee

The Clovis Public Works Committee cleared a small obstacle in the preparation of the first phase of its effluent water reuse project.

A decision for a one-time waiver of $10,000 in water fees to Clovis property owner Jackie Roberts was approved by the committee, an advisory board to the Clovis City Commission. The commission can act on the recommendation as early as its April 5 meeting.

The project would take advantage of 4 million gallons of wastewater created by the city each day by treating it to a level below drinking quality and recycle it for municipal use, such as watering the grass at parks and schools.

The waiver, City Engineer Justin Howalt said, was proposed by Roberts when he was approached for easement rights on the pipeline that would run through his property in what Howalt called "Phase 1A" — a compressed version of the originally designed Phase 1 to take advantage of a $4.1 million Water Trust Board award.

Roberts, Howalt said, purchases water from the Wastewater Treatment Plant to irrigate for $10,000 per year. In exchange for the easement, he asked for a one-year waiving of that fee.

"I think that it's fair," Howalt said, "in that it's a perpetual easement and we're going to be taking away his water supply (as the effluent project reduces available wastewater)."

The first phase of the project, funded through the WTB award and $1 million previously set aside by the city, is largely comprised of creating the treatment infrastructure. Phase 1A would take the pipeline from the wastewater treatment plant to the landfill, and future phases would move the pipeline further north into the city. The estimated total project cost is $12 million.

It is estimated that Phase 1A would take 12 months to construct, and will begin in the summer after the city commission accepts the Water Trust Board monies through the ordinance process.

In other business at the meeting:

  • Trash collection times were moved up an hour until May 1, and for future years from mid-February to May 1. Normal trash collection runs 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the seasonal collection running 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Howalt said high winds during those months create troubles for landfill staff, and the winds tend to be less of an issue earlier in the day.

Public Works Director Clint Bunch said 6 a.m. is a good time to start, and noted that starting at 5 a.m. was a time that would upset many citizens.

  • Howalt reported from a recent public meeting regarding future plans for Norris Street reconstruction between Llano Estacado Boulevard and Wilhite Road.

While there is no funding allocated for such work at this time, and no timetable for doing the work, Howalt said the public meeting was well-attended with 31 residents. The city is considering either a four-lane system or a three-lane system. He said the majority of people at the meeting, when they discussed the matter in a one-on-one setting, said a three-lane system would be preferable.

Howalt said if funding for the project becomes available, it would likely be ideal to split work into three sections, and use a summer period to work on the section including Mesa Elementary.

An average of 6,000 vehicles use the street each day, according to New Mexico Department of Transportation data.

  • The committee recommended installing a pipe fence from Hull Street Overpass on the west side of Hull Street, replacing guardrail that was removed during reconstruction.

Commissioners Bobby Sandoval and Fidel Madrid, who represent District 3, said a constituent who lives in the affected area was not notified of the guardrail removal — which they felt was a disservice.

"It's tough to put ourselves in to their mindset," Sandoval said, "because we don't live next to an overpass."

Madrid concurred, noting that the guardrail discussion is occurring after work was done, when it should have taken place beforehand.

Howalt said the removal of the guardrail was an engineering decision, and it was approved by the state.

Sandoval responded that while he thinks Howalt is a great engineer for the city, the entire point of having a public works committee was to discuss those types of actions, and there would be no point of having meetings if it was simply rubber-stamping engineering findings.

Chairman Len Vohs admitted the guardrail removal may have been an error in expediting the project, but that the recommendation was the committee's best way to move forward.

  • Howalt said work will start soon on additional stop signs for what was referred to as the Cameo area of the city.

The city received requests to put up a sign at 10th and Cameo, and used the request as an opportunity to look at traffic flow as a whole in the area between Cameo, 14th, Reid and Eighth Streets. There will be 39 new stop signs coming in, and stop signs at six intersections will change from east-west to north-south or vice versa.

City Manager Joe Thomas said he had kept tabs on media accounts of the changes, and found the majority of the comments —including one letter to the editor — to be positive regarding the signage.

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