OVPD generator to get more stable footing

The saga of the Ocean View Police Department’s generator continued this week, with town council members voting 4-1 on Aug. 1 to approve up to $5,000 be spent to pour a concrete footing around the existing installation at the OVPD temporary location, on top of the generator’s oak shipping crate and treated 6-by-6-inch lumber.
The move came at the recommendation of engineer Chuck Hauser and John Mann, a consultant with TAI, who had examined the generator that sweltering summer evening and concluded that the generator installation was up to required engineering standards for a temporary installation that could last until the completion of the new OVPD building next spring.

Hauser said he’d previously come up with four options to correct the temporary installation improperly authorized by Councilman Bill Wichmann that took the generator out of its warranty with Kelly Generator Equipment (KGE). This was a fifth option, he told council members, and one designed to avoid the further expense to the town of bringing in a crane to lift the generator again so that it could be placed on a traditional concrete pad.

Hauser said some of the requirements that previously had been cited as not met by the current installation were only required in a so-called “permanent” installation. But the OVPD installation was always intended to be short-term, until the new building was constructed, and would therefore need to meet only certain requirements. He said he felt those requirements could be met by pouring concrete around the existing installation.

Mann noted that in testing the generator that evening, he and Hauser had discovered only two significant issues:

That the generator didn’t automatically come on when power was cut to the temporary police headquarters, when its major function will be to serve as an automatic backup power source; and
That a 500A breaker was serving as protection to the generator with power provided through a 200A cable.
On the first issue, Mann said he believed that was a maintenance issue and could be investigated and resolved. On the second, he said the load at 200A was not too much for the generator and that the issue could be resolved simply by using a 200A breaker instead.

Hauser noted that the current temporary installation would have been very acceptable — and safe — at a non-municipal installation, such as a farm, but was not considered suitable in a municipal use. He said that KGE was requiring a “permanent” installation for the generator’s warranty to be honored, and despite the dispute over how “permanent” the situation at the temporary OVPD really is, he believed that pouring the concrete around that installation would be enough to get the equipment back in warranty.

Hauser said KGE’s previous report had said a concrete pad “or other suitable surface” would be required, with the proposed solution falling under the latter category.

Councilman Roy Thomas, who has been highly critical of the circumstances in which the generator was installed, noted that he believed a formal concrete pad was required by KGE, in an e-mail sent to the town after the initial report cited faults in the temporary installation. He asked Hauser and Mann to contact the company to ensure the proposed measure would be sufficient.

But the other council members were eager to get the project on the move. Wichmann cited the sturdiness of the existing support structure, saying he wouldn’t mind being around as long as the 6-by-6’s and oak shipping crate would be. And Councilman Norman Amendt said it was time to move on the issue.

Council members voted 4-1 (Thomas opposed) to authorize Town Manager Kathy Roth to spend up to $5,000 for the short-term installation improvement as proposed by Hauser, with estimates for the job coming in around $3,000.

Also at the Aug. 1 Ocean View Town Council meeting:

Council members voted 4-1 (Councilman Eric Magill opposed) to authorize the cleaning out of a drainage ditch at 29 Hudson Avenue. Council members noted reluctance to set a precedent of cleaning out ditches on private property but agreed that a letter sent in 1997 to the Vanderloo family, who own the property, indicated the town planned to clean out the ditch, though it was never done. Council members further cited the recent cleaning of a neighboring ditch on town property that increased the flow of stormwater to the Vanderloo property and thus increased the impact on the ditch in question. They also stated their intention to consider the case the final one where the cleaning of such private ditches would be considered.
Discussion of the needs for a new public works building was tabled until the council’s Aug. 15 workshop, with ongoing debate over how accurately a growth projection for the town reflects what its public works needs will be in the future. The study noted some 500 dwelling units potentially in areas of future annexation, with other undeveloped lots inside the town’s current limits. Council members asked Roth to make another calculation of potential units to be added, using firm numbers for existing, unannexed developments and an estimate of 60 percent for undeveloped land. Likewise, discussion of the design for the building was tabled.
Hauser noted forward movement on the town’s water system, with a number of easements yet to be granted by property owners. Town Solicitor Dennis Schraeder said he expected there would be some who would hold out until the last minute, as some citizens were mistakenly under the belief that the town needed 100 percent of the easement requests to be voluntarily granted before proceeding.
“There are a few people out to be the heroes of the no-water movement. Tonight, we should make it publicly known that that will not stop it if the town wants to go forward,” Schraeder said. He noted there were measures available to the town to deal with those who did not sign.

Hauser, meanwhile, said he believed the bid process could move forward, with advertisements for bids being placed in August and a meeting for potential bidders at the end of the month. He proposed a non-mandatory — but encouraged — meeting type, as opposed to usual practice, to ensure the most competitive bids were entered.

Police Chief Ken McLaughlin asked council members to consider a turnkey computer system package for the new police station, citing the age of existing systems and a desire to work with a state contractor experienced in law-enforcement computer needs and able to provide around-the-clock support. Magill encouraged him and any contractor hired to consider delaying the purchase until the new Windows Vista operating system is available and well tested in use, likely near the spring completion of the station. Ted Patton of URS reported on Aug. 1 that the station’s construction is on schedule for completion in late May or early June of 2007.
Magill formally introduced a new ordinance regarding wireless communication towers, based on a report from URS. Wichmann noted that amateur radio operators had offered at the Citizens’ Auxiliary Patrol meeting that week to help the town with communication in an emergency and asked that the town ensure that the related radio towers were not unknowingly banned.
Council held first readings for a series of ordinances. (1) An ordinance instituting a 3 percent gross rental receipts tax was questioned as a revenue-generating move, with Mayor Gary Meredith and Wichmann wondering if the cost of enforcement would erase any gains from the tax. (2) Council members expressed support for an ordinance that would control street naming and require 4-inch numbers on homes or 3-inch numbers on mailboxes, as well as forcing a name change for one of two streets with the same name. (3) Meredith noted the need for an ordinance allowing the town manager to determine where no-parking signs were and were not needed. (4) And council members tabled discussion of a ordinance that would impose a surcharge on construction permits to fund grants for emergency services. The previous day’s fire at an Atlantic Avenue home was referenced, as a case in which multiple additional fire companies had needed to respond to a fire in the town – something that might be used to justify grant requests from those companies. But Schraeder emphasized that the finance officer and budget committee would have discretion to request proof of service to the town and select applicants to be approved for such grants.
Council members approved a block-party request from the Hunter’s Run community, citing no problems with previous events there.
Council tabled consideration of employee health insurance until their workshop, asking Roth for an apples-to-apples comparison of several options presented. She noted that the current plan the town offers is expected to increase in cost by 28 percent in September and offered several alternatives ranging from just under the budgeted 15 percent cap on increases to that 28 percent increase. Council members expressed a desire to continue as much coverage as possible but some were unwilling to just accept the 28 percent increase.
Council members approved some housekeeping changes to the rules and procedures for the council, on a 5-0 vote.
Changes to police procedures for computer seizure and evidence were also approved unanimously, with McLaughlin noting that the department was working to increase its ability to deal with computer crime.