WAGE DEBATE

Oscoda Township Trustee Timothy Cummings shares his thoughts with fellow board members about the recently approved Economic Improvement Director position. In a 5-2 vote, officials agreed to a salary range of $85,000 to $125,000 for the chosen applicant, depending on qualifications.

OSCODA – Since Oscoda Township hired ROWE Professional Services Company as its in-house engineering firm, the company has taken on a vast array of projects for the municipality.

Updates on the various jobs that are in the works were shared with the township board of trustees at their Aug. 26 meeting.

Officials heard from ROWE Principal/Vice President Rick Freeman, who also gave a progress report on the Phase I and Phase II water main extension projects, as reported in last week’s edition of the Oscoda Press.

He began with a summary of the firm’s as-needed services to-date, which include involvement in the electrical upgrades at Old Orchard Park (OOP) Campground.

ROWE has been providing technical assistance for upgrading 36 sites at the west end of OOP with 50-amp electrical hookups, in order to meet the demands of newer RVs and other users.

Freeman has met with Oscoda Township Parks and Recreation Director Al Apsitis, as well as maintenance assistant Gary Scott, in regards to the different pieces of equipment needed.

Items such as panel box, wire and pedestal specs will go out to local suppliers/contractors in order to obtain an actual quote, with Freeman saying that more concrete prices will be available in the near future. As of right now, though, the project is anticipated to be around the $70,000 range.

A key item to note, he said, is the transformer that was installed by Consumers Energy is having other components hooked to it. So a new, separate transformer will have to be brought in just for these pedestals. “There’s too much pull off of that transformer to also add on these 50-amp pedestals.”

“And is that because of the size of the units we have coming in to the park?” asked Trustee Timothy Cummings, referencing the larger RVs.

This was confirmed by Freeman, who added that there is quite a lot of demand on the sites in question.

Cummings also pointed out that there will be continual growth at OOP, so he wanted to ensure that this was taken into account with the project at hand.

“That’s built into these components,” said Freeman, who confirmed that continued expansion was considered.

“Based on where we’re at now, we’re back within a reasonable project budget,” he also said, referencing an earlier update where he advised that prior estimated project costs came in higher than anticipated.

According to Freeman, one reason the figures are more in line now is because the township will be installing a majority of the materials, which saves a lot of labor costs. “And that was where some of the budget information, the estimate that we had, was kind of out of whack. We were provided costs for a contractor to come in and do all of that.”

He then updated the board on a potential special assessment district (SAD) in the Elk Lane/Lake Street area, as ROWE is investigating issues of providing sanitary sewer service in platted areas where the dedicated road right-of-way is not clearly defined.

Freeman said the estimate depends on how far the township wants to carry the sewer over to service that neighborhood, and it is anticipated that this will be about 3,500 feet. “That could vary a little bit, depending on how that all shakes out.”

He notes that the estimated figure is almost $636,000 for the sewer, which involves 30-35 parcels. Of this total, $561,400 is expected for the actual construction cost, with about $75,000 needed to create the SAD and the engineering that goes along with same.

He said that in the township’s existing ordinance, there are provisions that private property can and should connect to a public sewer through a public right-of-way within 400 feet of that sewer. If it exceeds 400 feet, either on-site sewage disposal or sewage treatment needs to take place in the form of a septic system or a private sewer crossing one ownership of property out to the connection with the township sewer.

Freeman’s updates on the as-needed services also included the following:

• ROWE and WTA Architects are exploring options to provide a rinse station for swimmers at Ken Ratliff Memorial Park, as related to the foam on Van Etten Lake that is contaminated by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

A revised shower apparatus is being considered for installation and, with associated site improvements, the cost may be in the area of $15,000 to $18,000. “But that’s still open for discussion, as far as where to go next with that,” Freeman said.

• Drainage and erosion issues at the OOP Campground public dock are being examined, and more information is being gathered on how much material may be needed to stabilize the area. “We are developing a proposal for further investigations to provide adequate recommendations,” Freeman stated.

• The former Wurtsmith Air Force Base utility evaluation – for potential future development opportunities – is ongoing and is addressed on an as-needed basis.

Freeman said specific site evaluations were provided for the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority, and ROWE has participated in a meeting regarding overall site evaluation.

• ROWE is aiding with evaluating and understanding the data which resulted from the township’s Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater grant project. The firm is working with Fleis & VandenBrink Operations and Resource Management (FVOP) as various issues arise.

• Miscellaneous site plan reviews are ongoing, and ROWE is assisting FVOP on an as-needed basis with such matters.

“I was just forwarded one for the new health care facility today by F&V Operations, so that’s moving forward,” Freeman told trustees.

As for the projects to date, he said a productive work session was held recently on updates to the township’s sanitary sewer and water system ordinances, as well as related policy updates.

The goal is to incorporate the comments received during the session into a final document sometime this month.

Freeman said ROWE has been informed of some existing concerns, and the firm will try to encapsulate this in the ordinance language to prevent some of those issues from happening in the future.

His progress report also included mention of the fact that ROWE is continuing to monitor any grant programs which may be available for the ongoing water main projects in the township, in response to the PFAS contamination.

In related business, trustees approved paying HydroDynamics Inc. of Waterford $18,830 for repairs to wastewater pump station number 25.

Superintendent Dave Schaeffer said a coordinated effort has been underway among those from ROWE and FVOP to identify the issues with the pump and offer solutions for the board to consider.

“Based on the cost of the repair of $16,330, versus the replacement of $33,726, F&V recommends the repair of pump station number 25,” he said.

There will be a $2,500 installation cost associated with either option, he continued, which is why the total repair amount is $18,830. 

“This will significantly improve the operation of this station,” Freeman  also stated of the improvements.

According to FVOP Regional Manager Catherine Garnham, a leak in one of the pumps at pump station number 25 was observed earlier this year.

She advised that this is the main base station which conveys all sanitary sewage flow to the treatment lagoon.

“FVOP contacted the HydroDynamics field service group to remove the pump for inspection and take it to their facility for evaluation,” she stated in a memo to Schaeffer.

“During the field inspection, they observed that the pump had excessive wear in the volute, the casing that receives the water being pumped by the impeller,” Garnham continued.

“Review of the operational setpoints indicated that the Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) that controls the speed of the pump was turned down to a frequency that was causing cavitation, or air bubbles generated inside the pump during operation,” she stated.

“The VFD frequency had been set by Integrated Controls, the original provider of the pump station control system,” she added. “FVOP immediately adjusted the VFD frequency on the remaining pump to help reduce the potential for cavitation in that pump.”

Garnham also noted that, once the repaired pump is installed and tested, HydroDynamics will remove the other pump for inspection while on-site, at no additional cost.