Council talks Sulpher Creek vandalism, details capital expenditures for upcoming budget

Evanston Public Works Director Gordon Robinson talks about vandalism at the Sulpher Creek Dam site outside of town during the May 12 city council meeting. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — A special Evanston City Council meeting to appoint Diane Harris as the new city clerk was held before the work session on May 12. After unanimous approval by the council, Mayor Kent Williams led Harris in the swearing in ceremony. Harris thanked the council for their vote of confidence and said she was nervous but very excited to be given the opportunity.

First on the work session agenda was Uinta County Museum Kay Rossiter and museum curator Mary Walberg. Rossiter wanted to update the council on the repairs that are being made to the Joss House and address budget concerns. 

“We are about $16,000 short, and we are asking for help,” Rossiter said. “We’ve given you a handout with the cost broken down into three phases. The roof repair is a priority before winter and you see that the total amount for the exterior repairs comes to $9,500. The county has turned over any funding sources they had to the needs of the pandemic.”

Walberg said, “There has been lots of work done in-kind, and we still have some money available for part of the work. The Joss House is a national treasure and we get hundreds of visitors from all over the nation and other countries that visit it. It brings an economic boost to Evanston’s economy.”

The three phases of work consist of: 1) Porch roofing and stabilization which includes removing existing roof coating and replacing metal panels on both the front and back porches at a bid of $2,660.  2) Front and back porches: framing of windows to accommodate new siding and covering of windows; underlayment and water proofing and flashings; securing and prepping of existing poles, decking and fencing for painting; prepping the four doors for painting, priming, and painting with UV protective paint for prevention of fading for a cost of $4,300. 3) Exterior signage: repairing damage, repainting, and applying UV coating of existing sign and designing, fabricating and installation to signage on door sidings and over the front door for a cost of $2,540. 

“We want the project to succeed,” Williams said. “The difficulty is the impact on the local economy from COVID-19. The impact is far reaching and magnified but we will look into helping if we can.”

Evanston Public Works Director Gordon Robinson addressed problems at the Sulphur Creek Dam. He showed a slide presentation of graffiti that has been painted on all available surfaces: the dam, the overflow structure, the sign, the gate, evidence of a fire circle on the highway and bullet holes in the sign. Another major concern of Robinson’s was tire tracks on areas around the dam which is causing erosion.

“We need to protect the dam,” Robinson said. “Options are we put a fence all the way around the area with a locked gate and an area for people to park and walk in to the dam. It would be about 2,000 feet of fence. Or we could look into barricading the structures with rocks and other materials.”

Williams and councilmembers felt it would be important to protect public access and not put up a locked gate, as the community uses the area frequently. There was discussion about protecting the water supply and the feasibility of using proceeds from the water fund to protect the dam. 

Robinson said he would look into using some kind of barricade to the dam and the overflow structure, adding that dam maintenance is a line item on the budget.

Harris was next on the agenda to discuss using electronic packets rather than printed copies handed out at council meetings. Harris explained members could bring their tablets to pull up the resolutions or they could project them on the screen and also, she would send them out electronically at least 24 hours before the meetings. Harris said this would save lots of paper and time as it takes many hours to copy all of the items on the agenda for each member.   Councilmembers agreed it is a good idea and said they are willing to try it out.

Last on the agenda was City Treasurer Trudy Lym, who had prepared the list of budget items under capital improvements to be discussed. The general fund capital improvements items are listed as these different categories: citywide; police department; general services; community development capital outlay; planning and engineering; and parks and recreation. The cost amounts show what amount the city incurs and what comes from grants and other funding sources. The city’s budgeted cost for capital improvements is $764,543, with $210,000 of this coming from building repair reserves.

The amount for locker replacement for the rec center was bid last year but Evanston Parks and Recreation District Director Scott Ehlers said he is hoping to rebid and receive a much lower price. The funds for this project will come from the building repair fund.

Following the general fund is the cemetery, golf fund, and economic reinvestment fund. Lym said the budget for the cemetery of $60,000 includes a remodel to give the staff two office spaces and also funds for a database that would provide maps of the cemetery in digital format for easy access for someone looking for their ancestor’s burial lots.

The golf fund listed no immediate need for projects with zero amount budgeted.

The Economic Reinvestment Fund for the ISA project; Roundhouse courtyard Phase 1; State Hospital Feasibility study; and a potential loan for a manufacturing project were all budgeted for a total of $105,395, with $3,435 of that coming from grants and a match.

“The loan for the manufacturing project that is included would only be taken out if the city gets the grant for the project,” Lym told the council.

Under Enterprise Funds (water fund distribution and collection) on the budget are the watershed study; City View water line replacement phase 2; a backhoe; water plant cameras; water tank cameras; a water tank for E-Hill and a Twin Ridge water tank, for a total cost for the of $1,088,320, with grant proceeds of $710,000.

The Wastewater Fund budget for Union Center extension; wastewater cameras; and a portable generator (carry over) comes to a total of $524,270. For the category Environmental Svc/Sanitation — which includes Harrison Drive storm drain; a one-ton dumptruck; a Johnson VT 652 street sweeper; and a PW fuel station brings the total wastewater fund cost to $650,375.

“I’ve included a wish list of 10 items at the bottom just in case,” Lym said.

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