One city project moved forward while another stalled at the Tuesday meeting of the Newton City Commission.

Sand Creek will fill with water next year, as the commission awarded a design and build contract Dondlinger Construction for replacement of the Sand Creek Dam. The dam failed in this past July, leading Sand Creek to empty.

"This is not a flood control item, it is for aesthetics, especially," said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works for the city of Newton. "The purpose of this is to have a pool of water that is aesthetically pleasing around town."

The dam makes use of an inflatable bladder, which city staff and engineers told the commission is a cost-effective way to manage the water pool and deal with water rights downstream. The bladder, now 40 years old, failed this year after several high-water events.

The contractor will order a new bladder, expecting four to six months before delivery. The contractor will remove the old bladder to assess the condition of substructures of the bladder and dam.

The cost of the project is estimated at $400,000, with the capital improvement budget allowing for $600,000. A concrete dam with multiple gates was estimated to cost more than $2 million by engineers working on the project.

"The value of the materials is very large on this," Loomis said. "The manufacturing has a very long lead time."

Life expectancy of the bladder is 20 to 25 years. The original bladder lasted for 40 years.

This will be a bonded project, with the bond payments made out of the sewer project.

A project to construct a new building for the Parks Department, however, will not move forward as estimated costs rose well above what staff and the commission were expecting.

The old building was razed about five years ago because of safety concerns in the building.  Since that time, the city has leased a building at 220 S. Meridian at a cost of $2,500 per month. A one-year extension has been negotiated for 3,994 monthly.

“It is time for the city commission to discuss this again,” Loomis said.

An architect was hired in June to look at a new facility on S. Boyd Street — a property currently owned by the city that would also allow for future expansion to include other city departments.

The proposed structure is a 21,000-square-foot metal building.

The estimated cost of the project is $4.2 million, with more than $1 million for site preparation. 

“It does not make any sense at all, until we get a more comprehensive picture stemming from the survey we are doing now to get a big picture for our community,” said Leroy Koehn. “I think we need to continue our lease for the existing building for a few years.”

The commission chose to not move forward based on the project cost.

“We understand this is much more than anticipated, which is why we brought it to you today,” Loomis said.

The price tag is more than double what was anticipated. 

"It is quite a jump to go from $1.6 million to $4 million," Koehn said.

In other business, the commission:

• Received a report from HBM Architects on site selection for a possible new library. The report recommended using Military Park, the current site of the library.

• Discussed action by the Harvey County Commission to end mandatory recycling and institute a fee structure for contaminated recyclables taken to the sort center. City staff will bring recommendations to the commission at a later date.

• Held a public hearing on, and approved, hospital revenue bonds for Newton Medical Center totaling $12 million. HRBs do not count against the city bonding authority. All costs are the responsibility of the hospital.

• Received an update on rail crossing improvements underway at Eighth Street for the K&O Railroad crossing.

• Granted permission to city staff to work on a January fundraiser that could help with the funding of new baseball/softball fields at Centennial park.

• Received an update that the city was awarded state funds for a pedestrian traffic study on 12th Street between Anderson and Boyd Ave.

• Received an update on roundabout improvements to the Broadway Court roundabout in front of the Meridian Center. Park Department staff have created a plan to create a plaza with trees and turf in the roundabout, with an estimated cost of $6,000 that can be paid from the current parks budget.