Viola to rebid for new treatment facility

Photo: Councilman Dennis Harber, Mayor Jackie Estes and John Selig with Civil Engineering Associates, discuss the plans for the city’s sewer project in this 2019. Photo: Courtesy Areawide Media

The City of Viola is back to the drawing board on securing a bid for a new sewer system for the community of about 350 residents.

Areawide Media reports when the city council met last month, bids for both the wastewater treatment facility and the wastewater collection system were over budget by a total of approximately $2.1 million.

John Selig, P.E., with Civil Engineering Associates, LLC of Jonesboro, discussed items which could be changed, including removing 3,260 linear feet of 8-inch sewer pipe and several other items, to reduce the estimated cost of the sewer system by $245,352. Making these changes would bring the funding deficit to $1.9 million.

Selig recommended rejecting the only bid received on the treatment facility and rebidding as soon as possible, along with negotiating with the low bidder on the collection system to reduce the cost.

He says as soon as the council makes a decision on rebidding the treatment facility, USDA will try to work out a plan to cover the additional funding needed to complete the project.

Following this discussion, the council moved unanimously to reject a low bid from DOXA Construction on the wastewater treatment facility and rebid the project as soon as possible.

Areawide Media reported in early 2019, talk of a sewer system for Viola has been around for decades.

But it wasn’t until Mayor Jackie Estes invited Selig to a council meeting in December 2013, concrete work began on the project.

Estes said city officials talked about installing a sewer system in the city during the 1960s and again in the late 1980s to early 1990s, but was heavily opposed by the residents.

In January 2014, 160 residents were mailed information regarding a proposed sewer system and asked to give their opinion. Three reasons a sewer system would benefit the city were given:

– Failing septic systems present health and safety issues.

– A need for additional housing in Viola, but many properties cannot be developed due to unsuitable ground conditions for a septic system.

– Without a sewer system, it is difficult for the town to experience economic growth.

With 75% of those who returned information being in support of a sewer system, the Viola City Council authorized Civil Engineering Associates to develop preliminary plans.

Grants and loans were discussed as ways to help fund the project, but it was evident something more was needed. The council began discussing a special election to implement a 1% sales tax in the city to support the project.

In September 2015, a special election was held for the sales tax. The sales tax passed by 70%.

Two years later, funds were ready to be used on the project with an estimated cost at that time of $3.6 million.

The system will have 160 to 165 residential and commercial customers.

The treatment plant will be located off of Arkansas Highway 223 South, on Ash Street along Big Creek. Approximately five to six lift stations will be placed throughout Viola.

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