Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Live Blogging from the Emerald City Planning Commission

Read Dan Schroeder's real-time reporting on Boss Godfrey's attempt to gain planning commission approval for a new $5-6 million water tank at the top of 36th Street

Attention Gentle readers. Dan Schroeder is presently situated the Ogden City municipal building, notebook computer in hand, waiting for tonight's Ogden City Planning Commission work session to begin. On tonight's agenda is a discussion of the proposed 5 million gallon water tank above the top of 36th Street. He'll be live blogging tonight, reporting on the effort of Boss Godfrey to gain planning commission approval for the proposed new water tank at that location.


Dan S. said...

Before the meeting began, I was (finally) able to obtain a copy of the executive summary of the 2005 Sunrise Engineering report on the city's water system. For the southeast bench, the report recommends one additional tank with a capacity of 2 million gallons. The reasoning behind this recommendation isn't clear from the summary so one would have to see the full report.

Dan S. said...

They've now started the work session even though the chair and vice-chair haven't arrived.

Greg Montgomery is presenting on behalf of the administration, but not saying much. Turns it over to the engineering department.

Dan S. said...

City engineer: Reviews his own credentials. Invokes his predecessor, Kim Wallace. Says that during Wallace's time, plan was for 5-million gallon tank above 46th Street. Then CRS (engineering consultants) did a study in early 2008. Invokes state administrative rules regarding municipal water systems, regarding minimum sizing requirements of "facilities". [I've reviewed these rules that the sticky point is that "facility" is never defined. Does it apply to each individual tank, or the system as a whole?]

You can tell he's a bit nervous and defensive, even though nobody has even asked a question yet. Conclusion: He supports CRS proposal, invokes other engineers who also support the proposal.

Dan S. said...

Now the engineers are going over the detailed components of the state requirements: equalization storage, fire flow, emergency storage.

[Background: The CRS report, showing the detailed calculations of storage requirements, is posted here.]

Dan S. said...

Engineers: The proposed 5-million gallon tank would serve zones 4 and 5, which are considered to be built out. According to the CRS report, these zones need another 2.75 million gallons capacity [says the engineer--this isn't quite what the report actually says].

Engineers: Not all of zone 4 is fed by 36th Street tank; southern part is actually fed by 46th Street tanks plus a pressure release valve (PRV).

City fire marshall had input into fire suppression needs of commercial buildings in zone 4.

[Pressure zones are numbered from high elevation to low elevation. Zone 4 includes WSU main campus, McKay-Dee, etc.]

Why should tank be buried rather than above ground? Answer: Aesthetic, guidance from "community action plan". The tank will sit on bedrock which is good for safety. Security is also better. Existing tanks have had bullet holes that had to be repaired, also problems with people climbing ladders to top.

What if tank fails? It won't fail catastrophically like the Teton Dam (according to city engineer). It is possible that the tank could crack in an earthquake, but this would only result in seepage. Tank would have a drain line to let water out before the leak would cause damage.

Dan S. said...

Engineer: Why replace 36th Street tanks? South tank was moved to this site in 1963. North tank dates from 50's. But these tanks don't have rust protection. Water department person: I've been inside south tank, you can bend the floor due to thinning from rust.

Engineer: No seismic considerations went into design of current tanks. Also they don't have the needed capacity.

Engineer: What about 23rd Street reservoirs? These are huge, over-sized for area served. [60 million gallons.] Talked to state engineer named Ying-Ying about whether this capacity could serve higher area. Answer was no, it must be stored at a place to provide adequate pressure for area served. Pumping is acceptable only if there is a study to show that flow is adequate. None of our pumps provide enough flow for fire suppression. Needed flow would be 3000 gpm.

Would state provide a variance? Would require 90% confidence level. Ying-Ying said variances aren't often granted for such large systems.

What about recent state audits? Last two audits both took off points for our storage being in the wrong locations.

Dan S. said...

Engineer: The recent switchover to the new pipeline between 23rd and 36th Street has already increased pressure at pump by 25 psi. Also, a gravity-fed system is easier on the pipes because you don't get abrupt pressure changes ("water hammers") from switching pumps on and off.

Steve from water department shows example of damaged hardware from 9th Street, which was stressed by pump-fed system.

Dan S. said...

A commissioner: What do they do in other parts of the country where they don't have topography?

Answer from engineer: Depends on state regulations, but gravity-fed systems are common. Often you see raised tanks. [5 million gallons?]

Dan S. said...

Engineer: Upper tank (1.25 million gallons) would mainly serve future development at WSU. Should be put in at same time as new transmission line. Saves money to put in tank and line at same time. [But is this tank even on the planning commission's agenda?]

Scott Schwebke arrives!

Dan S. said...

Engineer: Goal is to put in a system that will last 50 years or more. Steel tanks are now just as expensive as concrete, and more expensive to maintain.

Engineer has not yet made a recommendation on where to site the smaller tank; would prefer to put it on south side of Strong's Creek.

Commissioner: Would smaller tank be installed in same two-year time window? Answer: Yes. Commissioner: What about transmission line from upper tank? Engineer: That would come later.

McKay-Dee is currently fed from 46th Street tanks, which get water from Weber Basin. A failure on that system would put the whole southeast bench out of service. Proposed systems would help [details are complex].

Engineer: In conclusion, there is no ulterior purpose behind these tank proposals.

Dan S. said...

Rob Garner (sitting in peanut gallery) speaks: City engineer wouldn't meet with him until yesterday, so he was unable to prepare anything for commissioners' packets. How should we proceed tonight?

Acting chair Blaisdell: Work sessions are meetings for commission to discuss things with staff, and people are welcome to come and listen. We do not take input from citizens.

Asst. City Attorney: If commissioners have questions for Mr. Garner that might be ok but generally that isn't done. Reviews organization of city government, and reminds planning commission that city council authorized expenditures, whereas administration develops projects as directed by general plan. Planning commission determines whether projects are consistent with plans. It's not the administration's job to present multiple options to planning commission. Commission simply says yes or no regarding consistency with general plan, in terms of land use policies.

Dan S. said...

Blaisdell asks Montgomery what he thinks they should do. Montgomery: Long-winded answer that boils down to: it's up to you.

Blaisdell asks other commissioners how they would like to proceed. One commissioner does have questions for Garner. Blaisdell asks for vote on whether to make an exception to normal procedures so they can ask questions of Mr. Garner. All are in favor (Herman, Hueton, Southwick, Wright) except Blaisdell.

Dan S. said...

Commissioner Southwick to Mr. Garner: Please review your comments on capacity.

Garner: I feel a little shanghaied because Mr. Montgomery and Moffett indicated I would be able to make a presentation. To answer your question: I too had several conversations with the state. I got the distinct impression that the stated requirements at 36th Street are higher than what the state requires. City's stated fire flow requirements are much higher than those used in other cities in Utah. Sunrise Engineering report did say we needed more storage, but at 46th Street.

Wright asks Garner for his credentials. Garner: I was responsible for pipelines for large company...

Wright: What about seismic issues? Garner: Current site is probably best from a seismic standpoint, within that general area.

Wright: Why are you concerned with this? Garner: Money. We're spending 5 or 6 million dollars more than we need to solve our problems.

Dan S. said...

Commissioner Hermann: What about land use issues? Future plans of WSU? How were water requirements calculated, and when will the development occur?

Engineer: Any future expansion of WSU would be in higher pressure zones than current campus.

Hermann: What other future growth would the upper tank serve?

Engineer: See map in CRS report. As engineers we make reasonable assumptions. We don't have a crystal ball, but we make assumptions so we don't build something that ends up being deficient. We always try to include extra capacity. Even up above 9th Street, we used similar assumptions.

Engineer: We basically assumed anything at less than 30% slope would be developed eventually, to densities similar to those in surrounding developments.

Hermann: What is current zoning? Answer: Open space. Hermann: So we're talking about putting in a tank to serve open space? City attorney: land could be rezoned. Also, most of capacity for 1.25 million gallon tank is to serve WSU.

Dan S. said...

Hermann: But WSU doesn't have a time frame for their development. Is it best practice to put capacity in place, and invest taxpayer dollars, for unforeseen development?

Engineer: If it were just for WSU, that would make sense, but there are other advantages to having that tank there. Also, it's cheaper to build it now.

Hueton: But what if they don't build for 25 years, and then you've already used up half the lifetime of your tank?

Engineer: Upper tank elevation would match that of 46th Street tanks. Does it have to be built right now? No. The advantage is to provide alternative to Weber Basin for that part of the city.

Dan S. said...

Blaisdell: Our job is to do what's best for the public. I've worked in retail long enough to know that if you just do the bare essentials, you regret it two or three years later.

[Actually, the planning commission's job is to determine whether the project is consistent with the city's general plan.]

Water dept: Emergencies happen frequently, so redundant systems are good.

Heuton: None of this takes energy prices into account. If WSU builds taller buildings (reached by streetcar rather than auto), fire flow needs will be greater. So 5 million gallon tank seems wise. But the 1.25 million gallon tank seems more questionable. Also, hikers will protest over impacts in that area.

Engineer: Even buried tank requires access road. Less likely that it can be buried if it's on south side of Strong's.

Blaisdell: I live right below where 9th Street tanks are going in, and it's noisy and disruptive. But we were without water for several days last winter, so there's not one person who doesn't support the project.

Dan S. said...

Blaisdell to Garner: Is it still your position that above-ground tanks are better than buried tanks?

Garner: Yes. The two existing tanks are preferable because if one has a problem, you still have the other. A single large tank is less robust. Steel can be welded, but not concrete. Bullet holes and security problems will become less as the area becomes more urban. The landscape has changed dramatically since the tanks were put in.

Dan S. said...

Engineer from Sunrise:

Our report does find a shortage of storage in higher zones in the south. We didn't go into same level of detail as CRS. But I've reviewed CRS report and we would have used the same methodology that they used. I concur with their report.

City attorney: Planning commission cannot table this matter again at July 1 meeting; there's a time limit on making determinations on CIP amendments.

This matter will be early on the agenda for the July 1 meeting.

saintstephen 000 said...

Thanks, Dan!

Curmudgeon said...


Thanks again for the live reporting.

A humble public servant said...

Dan, many many thanks for all of the time and brainpower you devote to keeping information available to the public.

R Garner said...

Basically, I was shanghaied. I attended the regular Planning Commission meeting two weeks ago. During that meeting I raised enough questions to the reasoning of the project that I was asked by the Commission Chair to make a presentation to the Commission at tonight work session. The Commission Chair was a no show and in his absence the city attorney instructed the Commission that to have me present my recommendations would not be normal procedure and as such instructed them that they could only ask me specific questions. Pretty disappointing.

The long and short of it though is the city is going to spend about 5 to 6 million more dollars than it needs to and will end up with an inferior system with less flexibility because of the way its been engineered. The city does not need a 5 million gallons of water storage at 36th Street. What they have there currently is adequate for the city’s needs and if ever there was a need for additional storage, in the future, they could easily just add another tank at the same location for a whole lot less money than what they are going to spend. In the future the city may need additional storage at a location higher up the mountain in the southern part of the city but not where the city intends to build the one in their proposal.

Dave said...


Thanks, it sounds like more Godfrey monkey business. What do you think he is really up to, and why the secrecy?

Let the water flow said...

Mister Garner...
Perhaps you should prepare a written report to get to the plannning commissioners prior to the next meeting. Either email or submit to the planning dept to be added to the packet. They get emails and letters all the time. It is required. I would also send to city council as they will be seeing it at some point too. There is something fishy about this and I know they are suspecting it too but just cannot put their finger on it. It is too bad we all have to be suspicious about everything.

Dan, your report was awesome. I get suspicious when the discussion of rezoning or planning for future growth in what is now open space zoning and in the Mt.Ogden Community Plan it is stated do not change the zone of open space. Seems a bit sneaky. Get the water in and then push the development through again. Hard not to be suspicious.

If there are alternatives, especially if it saves money and saves a huge footprint on the mountain then it should be heard and looked at.

Keep digging diligent peoples. Something is up.

monotreme said...

It would appear that Mayor Godfrey is trying to build tanks at the top of 36th to support a hotel/condo development after he sells off Mt Ogden Park to one of his pals.

As Judge Judy says, "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining." I don't know why everything has to be an underhanded deal. Just come out and admit it.

Bill C. said...

I don't want to start out with a statement that the new City engineer is a liar, I'll just assume he's a little naive and ignorant.Possibly intimidated by his administrative handlers.
He's new, he wasn't around when this plan was developed. Apparently he also is not a very good reader.
Body language tells alot. As he nervously stated that there were no ulterior motives or hidden agendas behind this plan, he must have been hoping that the commissioners were very poor readers as well.
On page 15 of the CRS study justification for moving and burial of the tanks is based on plans to make changes to the golf course and other property near the sight of the 36th st tanks.
On page 30 of the CRS study the reccomendation for location of the pump station is predicated on where the new clubhouse for the golf course will be.
Adding to the oddities is the fact that all the reccomended capacity for fire protection came from Mike Mathieu, the Fire Chief. These numbers, on examination, are inconsistent and grossly over inflated.
This report, came out before the establishment of the bogus independent golf course committee of which Mathieu was a member and a driving force towards their reccommendations for moving the operatios to the 36th st location with the inclussion of hotels, condo's and of course artificial high adventure light, halfpipes with the ability to manufacture and maintain artificial snow.
We should also consider the fact that this study establishes the water need based on the assumption that all land currently zoned open space, will be developed.
So I'll ask, who could possibly see any hidden agenda behind any of this? I'll add to Mrs. Blaisedales comment about her retail experience, Ogden may annex the Uinta Highlands and Harrisville within the next 25 years, it may also be prudent to build now in anticipation of the increased burden that will place on this system, after all, it's only taxpayer money.

saintstephen 000 said...

I would like to request that the City Council do everything legal within its power to stymie any attempt to "pre-develop" the Ogden Bench area, at least until we have a new administration to hold accountable.

Mayor Godfrey built lots of things he wanted to build. Now its time to pay for those things.

Bill C. said...

Oh, one comment I forgot.
This plan is not consistent with the general plan, it totally ignores it.
But then again, is that really the big question?

Brett said...

I agree with saintstephen 000. Let's pay for some of things for which Godfrey has put Ogden into debt before we go into more debt. Let's finish the River Front project before we start anything else.
Let's remind him that he said he was going to have Ogden out of debt in about 10 years. That can't happen if we keep bonding for projects! Quoting Godfrey: "You can't have it both ways."

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