By RON PARK
During a Dec. 19 information-only meeting at the McWherter Center, Dresden city officials heard from representatives with A2H of Memphis and Henson Construction Services of Jackson, who updated the board on how things currently stand regarding the planned construction of a new municipal complex and a planned project for repairs and improvements to the city’s sewer system.
Senior Structural Engineer Ryan McDaniel and Senior Civil Engineer Travis Martin, both with A2H, and Henson Construction President Cary Henson addressed board members and attending citizens on plans to build a new municipal complex on the site of the former complex, which was destroyed by a tornado in December of 2021.
The board has already given its stamp of approval on basic interior design plans for the new municipal complex, which will house a new city hall, as well as facilities for the police and fire departments.
Henson went over a preliminary list of projected costs for most aspects of the project submitted by subcontractors, and the total of all of it added together, including a six percent management fee and another five percent for contingencies, came out to $6,988,119.
Henson pointed out, however, that this figure does not include design fees and a fire pump, and he added that all the figures at this point are just estimates, not bid amounts, and the numbers are likely to change as the project progresses.
“You’re probably looking at close to an $8 million project,” said Henson.
Mayor Mark Maddox and attending aldermen then held discussion regarding what monies the city might have available to go toward the project, but it was generally agreed that taking out a loan would be necessary.
“Bottom line,” said the mayor, “we’re looking at close to an $8 million loan to do what we need to do.”
Regarding the time frame for the project, McDaniel said they are hoping to be done with the design phase by the end of February of next year, and once state officials sign off on the plans, they can start the bidding process.
“I would love to start construction around April 1,” said McDaniel, though Maddox added that the April date is definitely not set in stone.
Henson said that, once construction starts, it will probably take around 14 months to complete the project.
Regarding planned sewer rehabilitation, Martin pointed out that the city has received a total of close to $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money funneled in through federal, state, and county governments, and sewer system rehabilitation falls within the governmental guidelines set on how that funding can be spent.
According to Martin, testing has indicated that the city’s sewer system has about a 55 percent infiltration rate – meaning that over half of the water being processed by the system is actually rainwater that’s getting into the system at different points and in various ways.
Martin said that, starting next week, contracted experts will be conducting an extensive study to find the points in the system where this infiltration is occurring.
One of the city’s aldermen asked if the $2.5 million would be enough to get city’s entire sewer system in good shape. Martin, however, pointed out that keeping up the sewer system would be a continuing effort going forward into the foreseeable future, and it would involve seeking additional funding here and there as it becomes available.
“It [the $2.5 million] will cover what we submitted to do for this project, but it won’t cover everything that needs to be done,” said Martin. “Still, it’s a huge chunk of what will be needed. This is not a fast process and not something you can do in one project.”
Martin said the study will probably take around three months, and he is hoping they can start rehabilitation work in the summer months of next year with a target of finishing the project some time in 2024.