City finds deal on equipment to reduce sludge

Monday, June 26, 2006

BERRYVILLE -- A belt filter press to decrease sludge volume by 80 percent may be on its way to Berryville if city leaders in Springdale accept Mayor Tim McKinney's bid.

McKinney said the belt press is a $300,000 item that Springdale is moving along during an upgrade at its wastewater treatment plant.

His bid of $20,000 is expected to be accepted by the Springdale Water and Sewer Commission when it meets late this week, McKinney told the Berryville City Council Tuesday.

He said the belt press is in good working order and he was assured there would be no problem getting parts.

"Springdale used it all the time," he said. "We'll use it one or two days a week. It will be a good thing to have and I made sure it would work at our plant."

According to McKinney, it may cost the city upwards of $60,000 by the time the unit is trucked over and set up.

"We definitely need the belt press no matter what route we take," he explained. "The belt press gets the water out, decreases the volume by 80 percent."

He said the city can reduce sludge volume with the belt press and land-apply the gel-like substance that remains -- or take the process one step further with the use of a sludge dryer, which reduces it to a Class A granular substance that can be safely applied as a fertilizer.

"You can put it on Aunt Mary's roses," McKinney explained, "if we can afford the dryer."

In other business at the city council meeting, aldermen heard from two residents who noted their opposition to a Residential Manufactured Home (RMH) zoning proposal that included their neighborhood, the Smith-Hayes Addition.

Kelly Smith asked why his neighborhood was chosen.

McKinney said in 2003 there was a big push by the manufactured home industry to enact legislation that would allow manufactured homes in every neighborhood.

"There was a compromise," McKinney said, "and a bill was passed that said every city has to have a place for manufactured homes that's not a mobile home park."

He said the planning commission looked for suitable locations and chose the Smith-Hayes Addition and the Bobo Addition.

"They looked for neighborhoods in transition," he explained, saying that at one time, nearly every home in those neighborhoods were owner-occupied."Now, 30 to 40 percent are rentals," he said.

"The types of (manufactured) homes proposed would be a big improvement over some," McKinney continued. "Smith-Hayes is not a subdivision where someone is going to build a million dollar home."

According to McKinney, the manufactured homes are not doublewides but "stick built homes built somewhere else," and that the planning and zoning commission had put enough restrictions on them that they would look nice.

"The city of Berryville is going to have to have some place," McKinney stressed.

Mary Torok, the other resident opposing the proposition, said she was concerned that people would set up manufactured homes as rentals.

"I don't think so," responded McKinney. "It would cost them $80,000 by the time they were done."

The matter will be discussed again at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, set for July 11.

In other council business, aldermen moved ahead with a proposal to increase some building permit fees. The proposal has been reviewed and revised by the Planning and Zoning Commission several times and sent back to the council for its approval.

McKinney suggested that the city attorney begin preparing an ordinance to enact the changes into law. The council agreed. Copies of the proposed changes are available at city hall.

Passed during the meeting on all three readings was Ordinance 854 waiving competitive bidding for the purchase of playground equipment for Thomas Memorial Park and the Berryville Skatepark.

McKinney said it would be difficult to develop bid specification for the equipment because of the many different designs, materials, costs and other variables.

He also noted that the ordinance wouldn't become effective for 30 days, "in case anyone wants to challenge it."

The skate park, he noted, was moving ahead with dirt work scheduled to start soon.

Thomas Memorial Park, he added, would have a play station for "little kids" and one for those in the five-to-eight-year-old age group, as the Thomas family had requested. There will also be picnic tables and lighting.

He noted that Boy Scouts were interested in installing the playground equipment, and preparing the house for painting.

"It's a nice, solid house," said McKinney, "and it has history." He said one room will serve as an office for Richard Seneca, the parks maintenance man, who will provide a presence.

"We hope to have it open by this fall," McKinney said, "and we appreciate the Thomas family for their generous donation."

There will be no city council meeting on July 4.

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