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Community Notes: City administrator offers update on important projects

By Steven Diers, City Administrator, Charles City

Fiber to Home Project/Local high-speed internet

Step by step we are getting closer to launching the “fiber to the home” project. Recently the Charles City Telecommunications Board was created and members appointed by the city council. Board meetings began in late December and the group has been meeting regularly since.

One of the steps necessary was to determine the location for the telecom. They needed both a space for the network components, as well as a location for the operational staff to work from.

Ultimately, a location that could do both became available and the building at 813 N. Main (City Tap) was purchased. With the location confirmed the project consultant could then complete the business plan and engineering layout of the network.

Current status is that we are a week away from having a completed business plan. On March 31 the telecom board will meet and review the plan and discuss the next steps.

The main next step will be preparing the project for bid. It is anticipated that over the next couple of months bids will be let, received, and financing secured so that fiber can begin being installed this summer with initial launch of the service in Spring 2021.

In addition to the startup procedures that need to be done, the board has been working on development of the general manager (GM) job description. The GM will be the first employee hired by the telecom utility.

The fiber to the home project is anticipated to be a $15 million project, with the funding coming from revenue bonds. Revenue bonds are paid by the fees generated from sales of service from the utility.

The funds will be used to install a fiber network throughout the city of Charles City, provide redundant connections outside of the city, and will provide the first few years of operating capital.

As the project gets closer to launch, marketing efforts will increase, so please stay tuned for more information as there will be a large effort to sign up interested customers for the new service.

This is a big project and has been several years in the making. We are partnering with other communities to build a redundant and cost-effective network. There is an existing and growing need in Charles City for fast, reliable and affordable internet service, that offers great customer service.

To keep the community viable, you need a quality internet service, and this project is focused on providing it.

Water Quality Initiative Grant

The city was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship through its Water Quality Initiative Grant . This grant will be used to help fund water retention improvements in the SW Development Park.

The project consists of addressing storm water flooding issues that impact several entities that are located in the park. The overall project is estimated to cost around $400,000.

These grant funds along with city of Charles City Storm Water Fund monies, SW TIF Fund monies, a private donation and funding from Charles City Area Development Corp., make up the entities that are partnering to fund the project.

The plan is to bid the project out in 2020 with work starting this season and being completed by June 2021.

Water Resource Recovery Facility/ Sewer Plant

As you may know the project is currently on hold as steps are taken to finalize environmental testing and notification requirements that were not yet finalized by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Numerous discussions have taken place over the last couple of weeks between the Iowa DNR, city of Charles City and the city’s project engineer, Fox Engineering. While a specific restart date is not yet clear, it does look promising that work will restart soon.

A significant hurdle has been the addition of the Chautauqua Sewer Lift Station Relocation into the overall project. This is the sewer pumping station located at Sherman Park (Gilbert Street and Park Drive) and consists of moving the lift station approximately 75 feet, which will get it out of the 100-year flood plain, and to increase the pumping capacity.

This work was added into the overall project toward the end of bidding as a bid alternate to the Water Resource Recovery Facility project, and environmental work has not yet been completed here.

The plan moving forward will be to conduct environmental work and notifications in this area separately from the main part of the project. It is our understanding that environmental work on the lift station can happen simultaneously with restarted construction at the primary Shaw Avenue location.

Environmental review is required as part of the State Revolving Fund. This fund offers low interest loans with extended terms to municipal entities for water and wastewater capital projects.

For regular updates on the various happening in the city and city news, go to the Charles City Facebook Page. Search for: Charlescity50616.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please let us know at City Hall. My email is: steven.diers@cityofcharlescity.org or you can give me a call at: 641-257-6300. Have a great day!

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