Presentation to Bristol Village Board on water tower says school site less expensive

This illustration from Strand Associates shows the location of the proposed water tower on the south end of the school property. Below the tower across Highway AH is Chaucer Woods subdivision. At the top is the Bristol School building.

Bristol Village Board members heard a presentation Monday from their consulting engineer that said building a water tower at a site owned by the Bristol School District would be less expensive than in the industrial park and provide enhanced fire protection for the school building.

But some residents of a nearby subdivision urged the board to locate the new tower elsewhere, citing mostly aesthetic concerns.

The utility district that serves central Bristol has an existing water tower in the 8600 block of 198th Avenue. That tower has been cited as in need of repair by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2022. The village has been deferring this maintenance, and the addition of an another water tower on the system, hoping to see more impact fee revenue from further development.

The pending plan calls for rehabilitation of the existing 100,000 gallon water tower and the building of a new 500,000 gallon tower on about 1 acre of property currently owned by the school district along Highway AH just west of Highway 45.

The additional storage of the new tower would increase the performance of the water system especially in delivering large quantities of water in the case of a fire, said Ben Wood, the village engineer from Strand Associates. It also would allow the village to maintain pressure when either of the two towers is being maintained.

The school site was planned for a water tower at some point and there are 16-inch mains in that area, which could move large volumes of water that would increase the fire safety of the school building. The school currently only has a rating of 1,900 gallons of water per minute; putting the tower on the property along with a new main along 203rd Avenue could increase that to over 3,500 gpm, Wood said. A site in the industrial park east of I-94 that could also house the tower has only 6- and 8-inch mains and would require additional mains for the new tower.

Total cost of the school site would be about $3.6 million, while cost of the industrial park site would be $4.7 million, Wood said.

Either project scenario would bring about a significant increase in water rates for people in Utility District 1, Wood said. The cost must be borne only by district users and cannot be transferred to general taxpayers who are not in the district.

A current average residential bill in the district is $36 per quarter. The school site could bring that to about $79.92 per quarter for the school site or $93.60 per quarter for the industrial park site, Wood said.

Those rates would have Bristol Utility District 1 water users paying among the highest rates in the state, Wood said.

Village administrator Randy Kerkman said the village has proposed trading the needed property from the school for installing a larger water main along 203rd Avenue that would increase water available to the school for fire protection. That main is worth an estimated $250,000.

Several residents of the subdivision — Chaucer Woods — just south of the proposed school property water tower site spoke at Monday’s meeting against placing the tower there, mostly citing aesthetics. but some also concerned about safety. Others were not convinced of the need for the tower.

“I’m not interested in being the highest in Wisconsin just because it’s nice to have,” said Ron Vivian, who lives in Chaucer Woods.

The Village Board has not made a final decision on whether to build a new tower or where. The issue to some extent depends on the school district, which has not decided whether to make the property available to the village. The issue is on the agenda of a school board meeting Wednesday for discussion.

Trustee Carolyn Owens, who is not running for re-election in April, is opposed to the school property site for a water tower. Other Village Board members did not express explicit positions Monday.

“That’s going to be devastating for all those people in Chaucer Woods who are going to lose all of those trees and see this golf ball on a tee,” Owens said. “I think the industrial site would be the better site. I think it’s really unfair to subject those residents to have to look at that.”

Here is a video of the entire presentation by Wood, the discussion by board members and public comments:


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