Tupper Lake water project under budget

But new water tank site adds unexpected costs

TUPPER LAKE — This town agreed to pay for a $78,780 increase to its water district No. 3 improvement project last week, covering additional costs for a site location change and subsequent electrical and environmental cost increases.

The project is part of a larger joint water improvement project with the village and focuses on district No. 3, which covers the neighborhood including and below the Adirondack Club and Resort on Mount Morris, including Tamarack Drive and Robinwood Lane.

Supervisor Patti Littlefield and counsel members Mike Dechene and Mary Fontana, who made up the small board meeting this month, listened to Kevin Feuka from C2AE (Capital Consultants Architects and Engineering) explain the reason for the change order and voted unanimously to approve it, still keeping the $1.5 million project under budget but making that budget a little tighter.

“I know the cost is high, but a lot has gone into staying working with the contractor that has a good reputation for keeping costs under control and being thorough in their bidding,” Feuka said.

The change order increase is actually two separate increases, an additional $40,000 for unexpected site changes and $38,000 for unexpected electrical changes.

These cost changes both stem from changing the proposed site of the district’s water tank, which occurred after it was revealed its original location would have been inside the ACR property. Feuka said this first site was perfect: flat and open, which keeps site costs down.

New data from the town showing incorrect boundary information between the village and ACR meant they had to abandon the site and move downhill to the edge of ACR property.

The $38,000 charge is for the change in plans for running electric lines, powering the pumps from the bottom instead of the top of the mountain.

This lower, more wooded location also meant the height of the water tank tower had to be increased to meet pressure requirements. The tower ended up being 59 feet high.

“That’s pretty high,” Feuka remarked, and is higher than was budgeted for.

North Country Contractors, which is doing the project and also installed the village’s well water system, reassessed the cost, which already created two change orders in May: $550,000 for site improvements on the new location and $549,000 for a new, higher tank.

Feuka said he wanted to buy the tank as soon as possible since steel tariffs introduced in March by President Donald Trump’s administration may raise the price of such a tank significantly in the near future. Steel tariffs put a 25 percent tax on the metal imported for all countries of the world, with South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil exempt.

“If we didn’t bite the bullet and place an actual purchase order for the tank, the steel price was going to go up as much as 10 percent,” Feuka said.

Because the new tank is over 40 feet high it requires a “major” state Adirondack Park Agency permit to request permission to built that high, which can take 90 days or more.

Feuka said he cut negotiations with the APA short to get the permit in time, before the tank cost got more expensive and caused another change order.

The APA’s permit calls for limiting the tree clearing area, which makes construction harder and more expensive, as well as a 200-foot extension to the access road to take an APA-suggested path. These changes, along with the APA directive to plant short evergreen trees to screen the tank contributed to the $40,000 change.

Shovels hit the ground on this project today, with all pipe supposed to be laid by Oct. 8. The tank will be delivered Oct. 22 and a “substantial completion” is scheduled for Dec. 31, meaning it should be operational by 2019.

Feuka said $1,180,000 of the project’s $1.5 million budget has been spent already on construction. It has a fair amount in its contingency fund, but Littlefield said these change orders mean not much else can change within the project ‘s budget. She also said $200,000 will be paid for by members of water district No. 3, with the rest being covered by state and town grants.

Members of the district should see a pressure improvement in their water service.

“My understanding is the way we are now, before this project, if the fire department had to hook on to one of those hydrants, their pumper could suck the line dry,” Dechene said.

The current pumps were described as “inefficient,” and though residents may not see increased pressure, they should receive more sustained high pressure. The improvements also allow the district to accept more development, specifically at the ACR property.

Dechene said that after a letter about the project was sen to all property owners in district, only one responded to oppose the change.

At the meeting the town also paid its first project payment of $54,588.