The Public Building Commission (PBC) has been speaking with City of Newton staff about the status of the Centennial Park restroom/concession facility, as well as the city's plans to extend sewer lines to that park.

At a recent meeting, the Newton City Commission directed city staff to contract for design of the Centennial sewer line project and bring back plans and specifications for bidding later this year.

In a written memorandum, which was in the hands of public building commissioners at its recent meeting, Director of Newton Public Works Suzanne Loomis outlined the information that led up to the city's decision.

Loomis said the restrooms at Centennial Park currently drain to underground tanks because sanitary sewer has never been extended to the park.

Those underground tanks are failing and should be replaced, Loomis explained, and utilizing underground storage tanks for sewage could be seen as a less viable option moving forward.

One reason for not continuing with the existing tanks is that they need to be pumped out every week from April through October. Loomis said this cost the city $10,750 in 2016 and $7,350 in 2015.

Another reason that continued work with the tanks is an unfavorable option, according to Loomis, rests with that they are located near the existing restroom concession stand and near the park shelter in a circle drive, as well as that they have a fairly short lifespan.

The underground tanks were last reconstructed in 1999, and reconstruction or replacement of the tanks is anticipated to cost at least $15,000 to $25,000 every 15 years.

As a part of the Water and Sewer Master Plan that is currently underway, Loomis said staff has been reviewing undeveloped properties, as well as how to serve those properties with the city's utility services.

For that reason, options were considered for possible sewer extensions to serve the properties surrounding Centennial Park, as well as the park itself.

The city decided to have staff pursue the first and most affordable of the sewer extension options. That plan would cost an estimated $230,000, including the removal of the old tanks. Loomis said more accurate costs will be determined throughout the design process.

Although this project is for improving a city park, it is also considered a utility extension project. For that reason, Loomis said the cost for the improvements will be paid in cash and funded through the city's sewer capital reserve.

The selected sewer extension option would additionally include a force main with a lift station, but Loomis said it would not open up land for development in the area – which other line options had the potential to do.

With the City Commission moving forward on sewer improvement plans, and because the recreation task force has shown interest in moving forward with some improvements to Centennial Park – including new restroom-concession facility – Loomis suggested that the PBC might want to consider funding a new building.

After discussing the item, the PBC voted to amend the Capital Improvement Plan to include a design phase for a Centennial Park restroom/concession building with an open air concession area in 2018. The revised plan will schedule construction of the new facility for sometime in 2019.