Dam repair to resume this week
By Scott Bellile
As work on the Black Otter Lake Dam resumes following six weeks of inactivity, the Village of Hortonville has opted not to raze the adjoining former library while the dam is under repair.
The Downtown Business Association has developed a “schematic” design for an outdoor public space where the Hortonville Public Library had stood, Hortonville Public Facilities Committee Chairman Kelly Schleif announced at the July 16 village board meeting.
With contractor Lunda Construction predicted to work on the Black Otter Lake Dam through late September, Schleif said demolishing the nearby former library would only be marginally practical while Lunda has equipment on South Nash Street.
Trustee Al Habeck said doing it now would also save the village from closing the street again in the near future.
But the village remains open to demolishing the building for outdoor space as well as selling the building if a buyer comes along. Due to these mixed ideas, Schleif said the village wasn’t ready to raze it.
“We don’t have the idea fully cooked,” Schleif said. “We don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, and I think we’d be jumping the gun if we go ahead and take the library down before we actually do have a plan in place.”
Village President Traci Martens said Hortonville began planning for outdoor space because it received only one offer for the establishment after nine months on the market. That offer was too low.
“We just didn’t see any need to keep it for sale when we weren’t getting any interest at all, and we needed to move forward,” Martens said.
Martens said the village was also concerned about razing the building too early without a plan and then bearing two kitty-corner gravel lots downtown.
The preliminary design for the outdoor space includes trees, benches, drinking fountains, a retaining wall and a compass rose design in the concrete. Martens said the design will be more simplistic if tax dollars must be used versus if the village receives grants.
Hortonville Public Library moved into the new Hortonville Municipal Services Center opened in summer 2014.
Hortonville Public Works Director Carl McCrary said the Black Otter Dam is scheduled to resume repair work after a delay that began in June.
At this point, work on the bridge could carry into late September, McCrary said. Hortonville Area School District is modifying bus routes for the first month of school.
The Black Otter Lake Dam repair was delayed because Lunda discovered erosion behind and below the bridge abutment wall. While the village restructured its plans, an engineer explored the problems. The engineer proposed a fix called micropile stabilization that could have exceed $400,000.
The proposal was rejected by the Village of Hortonville and Outagamie County because that work would have to be undone when Outagamie County redoes the bridge within five years.
“The costs were considered too great for a repair that was only considered to be temporary,” McCrary said.
In lieu of the micropile proposal, the village received a waiver from the Wisconsin DNR that would allow for reduced flow capacity by temporarily leaving an earthen embankment against the bridge abutments.
The project was delayed so all parties could determine a cost-effective game plan, which hinged on receiving a waiver from the DNR, plus Lunda pulled out its equipment in the meantime for other construction work during the six week hiatus.
The village was waiting to determine a new game plan and receive the waiver, plus Lunda pulled out its equipment in the meantime for other construction work during the six week hiatus.
Like the village delaying the library demolition to determine an effective plan, McCrary said it was in Hortonville’s best interest to postpone this project while the parties involved strategized.
“I’d rather see a delay than the wasting of taxpayer money,” McCrary said.
The dam repair began May 1 under a DNR mandate. The DNR gave Black Otter Dam on South Nash Street a High Hazard rating in January 2013. A dam failure analysis found there to be infrastructure and a risk of flooding to nearby homes in the event of a dam failure.
Outagamie County has agreed to replace the bridge in less than five years, but temporary repairs are needed to maintain the structure until then.