By Craig Moorhead

The Caledonia Argus

On May 11, the Caledonia City Council signed a contract with engineers to design and provide bidding  services for a new wastewater treatment plant. 

With a current estimated cost of nearly $11 million, the massive project was handed over to Donohue & Associates, Inc., which will charge the city $714,765 to prepare both a detailed design for the plant and bidding documents. 

Those bids are expected to go out in February 2021. If all goes according to plan, construction will take place in 2021-22.  

The company has offices throughout the Midwest, specializing in drinking water, wastewater, and   stormwater services. In 2019, the firm was ranked as the 17th largest in the nation in the wastewater treatment plant category. 

Last February, Donahue & Associates representatives told the council that a point source implementation grant could provide an estimated $7 million to help pay for the project.

Council members also approved a settlement agreement with Neuman Pools, Inc., with a caveat – that the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) does not object. 

The City of Caledonia had retained $43,096 in payments on a 2016 construction contract with the company, claiming that damages were caused to the newly-completed swim center through improper winterization, which was part of the original contract. Under the terms of the settlement, the city will pay the company $32,000 to settle the bill. 

The City of Caledonia has insured the facility through the LMC, which accepted a claim for rusted stainless steel pool gutters which the city contends were damaged by acid being improperly siphoned from a tank back into the system after the pool was winterized. 

Tearing out and replacing those damaged gutters could cost approximately $500,000, according to city staff.

The council also approved a motion to pay for COVID-19 antibody testing for Caledonia Ambulance Department and Caledonia Police Department employees. 

Several boxes containing 20 test kits each are being procured by the Ambulance Department. City staff who are not eligible for free testing can pay out-of-pocket if they want to be tested. The cost of each individual test kit is $30.

“Nobody would be required to do this (take the tests),” city clerk/administrator Adam Swann told the council.

Briefly

Swann also reported that Music in the Park has been canceled for 2020. “But the plan is, if in a month or two the situation is better, they might try to schedule a concert... maybe in August. But not as part of the normal Music in the Park series,” he added. 

Census figures indicate that as of May 9, 72.9% of Caledonia residents have responded to the census survey, which is a significant improvement from previous tallies. 

The Minnesota Department of Health has signed off on plans for the soon-to-be constructed well No. 8. A public meeting on the project will be scheduled prior to construction.

With short-term financing for the early stages of the wastewater treatment plant project being sought, the Minnesota Public Finance Authority reportedly will allow the City of Caledonia to later reimburse itself for those initial charges from dollars which the PFA  (most likely) will make available later.

Under its consent agenda, council members approved an additional $1 per hour for emergency medical responders and emergency medical technicians for standby time during April and May, utilizing Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Response Grant funds. The council also approved the hire of firefighter Jerry Holter with the same consent vote.

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