Council members fail to delay vote
By Bert Lehman
After much discussion, the Clintonville City Council approved the bid of $426,785 from Michels Corporation to repair the Pigeon River Dam.
A 5 percent contingency to the dollar amount was also approved.
A drawdown of the pond was approved as well.
The aforementioned approvals are contingent upon the city receiving about $225,000 in grant funds from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The city has already applied for the grants and should be notified in July if it will receive any.
When presenting the bids, Alderman Jim Supanich said the bids were good through the third week of June, which is 60 days after the bids were received.
Supanich told the council that if the city doesn’t receive grant funding, the city has bids to do the minimal amount of work required to make the dam safe and capable of operating.
He also told the council bids were received for the dam repairs without a drawdown. This added $40,000 to the repair costs.
Supanich told the council that a drawdown will allow the city to visually inspect the west side of the dam that is currently underwater. A drawdown will also allow the Pigeon Lake Association to dredge some of the areas of the pond using a less expensive method than dredging without a drawdown.
Clintonville Mayor Richard Beggs asked if the city chose to do the minimum repairs, if that would satisfy the Wisconsin DNR.
“Currently, but there are still some concerns about the structural integrity of the dam if we only do the minimal,” Supanich said.
He added that if only the minimum repairs are done, then more could be required in a few years.
“We’ve pretty much been told by the DNR if we don’t do this, we don’t do something, we have to take [the dam] out,” said Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland.
Alderwoman Maggie Tischauser asked when the DNR’s deadline is for repairs to be made.
Supanich said the repair work was supposed to be completed three years ago.
“If we don’t start construction on it this year, the DNR will talk about taking the dam out,” Supanich said.
He added that the Pigeon Lake Association is in support of the drawdown.
Beggs asked if the approval of the bid could be delayed.
Eveland said if the decision is delayed it would push it past the stipulation that the bid be approved within 60 days of the bids being submitted. This would require putting the project back out on bid, which could result in higher bids.
Alderman Chuck Manske asked if installing hydropower to the dam was ever considered.
One Clintonville industry did a study about 10 years ago looking into that possibility, Supanich said.
“The two problems with that is the water flow speed isn’t sufficient and the drop isn’t sufficient,” Supanich said. “If you don’t have the speed you need a 20-foot drop.”
Technology has changed in the past 10 years, Tischauser said, and she’d like to see hydropower researched again.
“It just worries me,” Tischauser said. “I want to make sure we do this right if we’re going to do it.”
She also asked about delaying the decision on the bid.
Alderman Brad Rokus, who works for the city of Oshkosh, said that through his job he has started to see the impact the proposed Foxconn plant in Racine is having on the area.
“We’ve got some contractors and our engineers as well, prices are starting to migrate north, and there’s the potential for shortages of contractors that are willing to do the work,” Rokus said. “They’re going to be making a lot more money in the southern portion of the state and they’re going to be spread thin.”
Council President Mike Hankins said it is fine that members of the council want to look at hydropower and other options, but the city has to move forward with the dam repairs now.
“We’ve had this sitting in front of us for three years and we’re at the point where we got to get this done,” Hankins said. “My concern would be if we delay, other things can happen. The closer you get to that deadline the closer you get to not having a dam or a lake.”
When Beggs asked for a vote, the council approved the bid by a 9-0 vote. Alderman Steve Kettenhoven was excused from the meeting.