Marengo wastewater treatment plant upgrade in new hands

MARENGO – The City Council started a new chapter Monday in its long quest to upgrade Marengo’s aging wastewater treatment plant. Members unanimously approved a new design contract that will save the city money.

The city’s engineering firm, H.R. Green, will design the plant upgrade.

City officials halted construction on the upgrade this fall because a buried landfill on site would have added significantly to the cost of the project.

The contract with H.R. Green is estimated to cost $9.5 million, roughly $3 million less than the city’s original design contract with McMahon and Associates. The city severed ties with McMahon and escaped unscathed, paying $400,000 of a $12.3 million contract.

“We think this a wonderful solution,” City Manager Gary Boden said. “We are getting a project that does the same thing at three-quarters of the price. How can you not think that’s a good idea?”

Crews from J.J. Henderson discovered in September that the buried landfill, northeast of the existing plant along Route 23, would complicate construction.

The city stopped construction to reassess the project. At the time, Boden said the city knew the landfill existed but relied on McMahon’s expertise that the project could be built at no additional cost.

Officials ended the city’s contract with McMahon and J.J. Henderson. The city paid a combined $650,000 to both firms for work completed but won’t be required to pay any additional money.

The contract with H.R. Green details a less-expensive plant expansion that will avoid the buried landfill entirely despite building near the existing plant. The expansion will produce the same pumping capacity desired by the city, Boden said.

The contract cuts out costs for a centrifuge and some piping upgrades. A $300,000 sewer lining project is also excluded, although that may change. The administration has said that project will be up for a council vote in coming months.

H.R. Green plans to bid the project this summer to ensure the city can acquire a $13 million state loan needed to finance construction in 2013.

“It’s an aggressive schedule, but it’s one that is meetable,” said Ed Coggin, an H.R. Green engineer.

Construction could start by the end of 2013. If it does, the expansion project that city officials have been planning for more than a decade will have undergone a one-year construction delay.

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