GARDNER – Village of Gardner officials are focused on the completion of water and sewer improvement projects in 2016.
Of utmost importance in the new year, Gardner Mayor Mike Serena said, is to complete phase one of the village’s storm sewer replacement project.
The village began phase one in 2015 because sections of red clay tiles in the storm sewers are unable to handle the drainage of water and create standing water in certain areas of town during heavy rains.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” Serena said. “We broke it into phases, beginning with the engineering phase in 2014.”
The first phase was estimated to cost between $400,000 and $450,000, but Finance Commissioner Dick Hileman said the project wound up being closer to $850,000. Serena said he believes it was because of a permitting glitch or miscommunication with the state and no fault of the village or contractor.
Because of the increased cost, Serena said the village will postpone the next phase to 2017. Hileman said the village is replacing five storm sewers, one a year, at a cost of $500,000 to $600,000 each. Hileman expects the total project cost to come to about $3 million.
Another top priority, Hileman said, is the replacement of more water lines. He estimated the village has replaced about 98.5 percent of its previously improperly-installed water lines during the last 16 years.
Hileman said there’s a 2-inch water line along Elm Street that needs to be upgraded to a 6-inch line and one in an alley near Odell Street that needs replacing, too. He’d like to allocate $200,000 for the project.
“I’d like to see that done,” Hileman said. “Then we should be good for 60, 70, maybe 80 years.”
The village also is aiming to replace some sidewalks that residents have complained about. Serena said he could see replacements happening later in 2016.
“It’s been a number of years since we replaced them,” Serena said.
Other than that, Serena and Hileman said Gardner is in good shape. Officials are looking for new business, but the village’s accounts have sustained themselves thanks to careful spending. Hileman said he never wants to use bonds or raise taxes.
“We haven’t raised taxes in 17 years,” Hileman said. “One of the ladies at the Grundy County Clerk’s Office told me the people of Gardner are very lucky. Well, we’re very fortunate to have good people in this town.”
Top Priorities for Gardner in 2016
1. Finish first phase of storm sewer replacement project.
2. Finish water line replacement project.
3. Improve sidewalks.