By Katie Dahlstrom
Creating a water source for the Lincolnway Railport remains a subject at the forefront of city and development leaders’ minds as they now have two potentially viable options to consider.
“We know to make the park marketable to future tenants we need to have a unified water source,” Clinton Regional Development Corp. Board Chairman Rich Phelan said. “Industrial parks usually have these kinds of utilities available. We need to get economically creative to find a solution.”
The park’s first tenants, RAIL.ONE and Nevada Railroad Materials, Inc. will be served by a well that RAIL.ONE constructed as part of a deal with the city of Clinton. Officials would like to have water service to the industrial park in place before the next tenants arrive.
During the Clinton City Council’s committee of the whole meeting last week, representatives from McClure Engineering presented three options for answering the lingering water supply question.
The city could construct a well at the park for $3 million to $3.5 million, feed the industrial park from Low Moor for $2.7 million or connect to the existing Iowa American Water system near Wild Rose Casino and Resort and extend it into the park for $2.9 million, Mike Starkey with McClure Engineering told council members.
The first two options, however, had significant drawbacks related to maintenance and water capacity, leaving the final option to connect to Iowa American’s existing line as the only attractive option presented.
Around 18,500 feet of water main would need to be installed to bring the line to the industrial park along with a 400,000-gallon water storage tank and a new booster station that could support the 1 million gallons per day goal needed to be certified by the state as a shovel-ready site. The infrastructure would be maintained by Iowa American and open up the area along the line for future development. Because Iowa American is not subject to the public bidding process as the city is, the construction timeline also would be shorter, McClure noted.
How the city and Iowa American would split the $2.9 million to bring this option to life, officials don’t yet know.
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“In discussions at some point it seems like there would be a city participation and an Iowa American participation. ... And there need to be some additional legal questions answered as to how any scenario related to that option could work legally,” City Administrator Jessica Kinser said.
At-large City Councilman John Rowland pointed out the displeasure from residents that would occur from the city footing the bill.
“What would probably be a little bit upsetting to people is if the taxpayers ended up running the water main out there for the railpark,” Rowland said.
Another option, which was floated to council members by Clinton resident Ed O’Neill, would be to use the existing wells at Crossroads Land Development, LLC, also known as the former Hawkeye Chemical site.
The site has three wells that each exceed the city’s needs for 1 million gallons per minute, Mark Cross, owner of Cross Roads Land Development, told the Clinton Herald. He said he is open to the city purchasing the wells for less than $1 million in order for the city to get water to the railport.
“I am very willing to work with the city. It’s a resource that’s not being used and there’s enough water there for everyone,” Cross said.
Crossroads and the railport are around half a mile from each other.
Since the council meeting when the fourth option was suggested and piqued council members’ interests, Starkey has contacted Cross regarding the wells.
McClure will investigate the wells further, but Starkey could not say if the option was viable or not. McClure representatives plan to return to a committee of the whole meeting to continue the water options discussion.