Pump station work to be put up for bids

The Altoona Water Authority this week authorized its consulting engineer to advertise for bids on construction of a pump station to serve a section of its proposed supplementary sewer line in Pleasant Valley.

The authority plans to construct the pump station on ground owned by developer Greg Morris in front of HealthSouth, although the authority so far only has a verbal deal for the ground from Morris.

Asked by authority member Tom Martin whether it would make sense to wait for a written agreement, General Manager Mark Perry said, “We need to keep aggressive.”

The authority is under order from the state Department of Environmental Protection to do the sewer project to eliminate wet-weather overflows.

The 30-by-50 foot building will have tan siding and a red roof to harmonize with HealthSouth, although most of the structure will actually be underground, according to Mark Glenn, the consulting engineer from Gwin, Dobson & Foreman.

The authority plans to open bids on the pump station May 20 and award a contract two days later – the same day as it will award a contract for the sewer line work for the $6.5-million project.

That line contract will go to second lowest bidder HRI Inc. of State College, rather than to low bidder D&M Contracting Inc., because D&M didn’t furnish the required financial information, according to authority officials.

HRI’s bid was $2.69 million, $198,300 more than D&M’s, according to Perry.

It’s still about $300,000 below engineering estimates for the work.

The authority has received a $2 million grant from PennWorks for the Pleasant Valley project and a loan from Pennvest that will cover the rest of the cost.

In other news:

The authority last week rejected a request from the owner of a vacant four-unit apartment building that is undergoing rehabilitation to bill him for a single service – instead of four separate services – while those remain unoccupied.

Fred Petrunak’s building at 1310 20th Ave. has a single service line, and the assumption embodied in authority policy is that

all four units are occupied, authority officials said.

“The rules are not fair,” said Petrunak – who is not the downtown optometrist of the same name.

Petrunak could eliminate the bill by having the water shut off until he gets tenants, but he needs a small amount to accommodate the renovations, he said.

He’s using very little – below the amount that would result in more than the minimum charge for a single unit – so a single minimum charge would make sense, he said.

Instead, he’s paying $160 a month, or four times the minimum charge.

The authority policy assumes full occupancy because to verify otherwise would require too much manpower, according to Perry.

“It’s all about control and inspection,” Perry said.

Petrunak could also reduce his bills by putting in a separate service line for each unit, Perry said.

That, of course, would be expensive, but it would enable him to keep the lines for vacant units shut off, he said.

Some water authorities require a separate line for each unit, officials indicated.

“The authority allows a single line for the convenience of the [landlord],” Glenn said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.