The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 10, 2012

City commissioners OK plan to bury some downtown electric lines

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — A $931,000 plan to bury electric lines in the downtown area was approved unanimously Wednesday, during a special Enid City Commission meeting.

The plan calls for removing overhead electrical lines and placing them underground in the area between Independence and Grand and from Maine to Park. The proposal is part of the Enid Renaissance Project.

During discussion, Ward 1 Commissioner Ron Janzen asked if $931,832 is the final total or if the costs could go higher. John Little, regional manager of OG&E Electric Services, said $931,832 is the project engineer’s best guess as to cost of the work.

Little said if there are cost overruns the city would pay those, but if the cost is less, the city will be reimbursed by OG&E. Tom Cossin, city of Enid project engineer, said burying electric lines is not part of parking lot projects, which will see lighted parking lots built around Enid Event Center and Convention Hall. Funds for those project already have been appropriated.

Janzen asked City Manager Eric Benson if there is a stopping place in sight for spending on Enid Renaissance Project. Building Enid Event Center and renovating Convention Hall cost $24.5 million. Benson told Janzen expenditures on the project are what the previous city commission expressed a desire for, and which have been supported by the present commission.

“We know what we need and what the commission asked for,” Benson said.

Janzen expressed concern at the near $1 million price tag on the plan to bury electric lines.

“A million here and a million there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money,” he said.

Funds to pay for burying the electric lines will come from a 1 percent sales tax dedicated to capital improvements or from a $12 million line of credit with Bank of America, established for Renaissance expenses. The six-month interest on the fund is 2.12 percent. The fund will mature in December 2021.

As the green area is developed south of downtown, more lines would be placed underground from Park to Garriott in Phase II of the project, according to information in the meeting agenda. OG&E will complete the work, including placement of new switch enclosures and ground-mount transformers, as well as construction of concrete-encased conduit to place power lines underground.

In another item Wednesday, commissioners approved a bid by J.J. Westhoff Construction to build two additional cells at the city landfill. Westhoff’s bid was $1,166,561.92. Benson told commissioners the current cell is nearly full. Cossin said the new cells would last about four years. The property where the new cells are planned is adjacent to the current cell on land already owned by the city. There is an estimated 20-year lifespan on a landfill, Cossin said.