BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

The recent Troutman Town Council retreat covered a wide range of topics as officials looked to plan for future infrastructure and equipment needs as well as getting updates on ongoing projects.

WATER AND SEWER CAPACITY

With 2,000 already approved new homes on the books, Town Council members explored options to keep up with water and sewer needs with Town Engineer Benjie Thomas.

Thomas warned that the town will have used up its capacity when approved developments are built out.

Providing service to these new homes would require upgrades of the Westmoreland Road Pump station to double capacity as well as improvements by Mooresville to handle the future sewer flow.

To the north, the I-L Creek system has limited flow, and the contract with Statesville ends in July of 2023. Inflow and infiltration problems also cause rainwater to use up the capacity as well.

Thomas suggested two solutions — diverting the flow from I-L Creek to Mooresville at an estimated cost of $4 million or negotiate a new contract with Statesville and divert excess flow to Mooresville from the Massey Pump Station and upgrade the Streamwood station at a cost of about $2.2 million.

The water capacity is also in need of improvement. The town purchases half a million gallons of water from EnergyUnited per day, with storage tanks holding about 1.3 million gallons.

The current maximum day demand is 500,000 gallons per day, but future demand at build-out of approved developments would be 1.2 million to 1.5 million gallons.

Thomas said the town will need to purchase more capacity from EnergyUnited or convert the backup Statesville water connection to regular use, with improvements to sustain reliability.

In the long term, at maximum current buildout of the Master Plan area in 20 years, Thomas predicted that Troutman will need 3 million gallons of sewer capacity per day, which will necessitate a second connection to Mooresville to increase capacity from 1 million to 2 million gallons per day.

To achieve the additional one million gallons in capacity, the town could either add a second connection to Statesville and purchase it or acquire a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to build a wastewater treatment plant on the Catawba River or Lake Norman.

Thomas warned the town must exhaust all other options before the state would consider a permit.

Water needs will also rise to 3 million gallons per day in 20 years, which will require an additional storage tank and purchasing more capacity from Statesville or Mooresville or obtaining a permit to draw water from Lake Norman and construct a water treatment plant.

Town Manager Ron Wyatt suggested that the town pursue deals to increase both capacities with Mooresville or control its own destiny by pursuing wastewater and water treatment plants since Statesville does not seem to be open to future agreements.

Councilman Paul Henkel concurred, saying the town needs to not be held hostage over boundary agreements with Statesville.

“We don’t have to knuckle under,” he said. “It bothers me because I want to work with neighbors but not be dictated to.”

Mayor Teross Young asked Thomas to research permits and costs and report back to the council.

PUBLIC WORKS

Department of Public Works Director Adam Lippard presented a critical needs equipment replacement plan, focusing on replacing a 1998 model jetting machine to maintain sewer lines as well as a plan for maintenance and replacement of submersible pumps.

The jetting truck and trailer mounted vac system would cost about $238,000, much less than a $300,000 large combination machine used by other municipalities.

Submersible pumps, though cheaper and easier to install, are not accessible for routine maintenance. According to Lippard, they run eight to 12 years and then fail. Six out of 16 of Troutman’s pumps are this type.

Lippard suggested a replacement plan for these pumps, recommending they be pulled at eight years and either rebuilt or replaced, depending on condition, to ensure the integrity of the town’s sewer system.

PLANNING DEPARTMENT

Interim Planning Director Jonathan Wells said his department is continuing its efforts to keep up with development and maintain excellent customer service with land development review and processing.

Permits seem to be picking up, and Wells expects the demand to explode with the warmer weather and the lessening of the pandemic. Wyatt said that the town is advertising for a planning assistant in the next two weeks in anticipation of this influx.

Infill development on smaller tracts and empty lots is also on the uptick, according to Wells.

Wells said that although 2,000 new homes are officially approved to be built in Troutman, he expects up to 3,000 to be built by the end of the decade, with the town’s population tripling.

Maintaining the Troutman Strategic Master Plan and planning for implementation was key to handling this growth, according to Wells.

He suggested town officials focus on improving downtown with Lytton Street corridor development, implementing Highway 21 improvements, solidifying existing and proposed street connections, and utilizing small area plans for areas such as Exit 42, the Lake Norman State Park gateway, and the downtown area.

Wells also urged the council to explore opportunity areas, such as the potential for the fairgrounds site to function as a future tourist destination venue. The town should anticipate its impact and create plans to take advantage of it.

The council should also keep the “pedal to the metal” on transportation planning and implementation to address the already congested Highway 21 corridor as well as future issues.

Wells suggested continued regional transportation engagement with the Centralina Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Iredell County, and CONNECT Beyond, a regional mobility initiative.

He also advised refining the second tier of the recently approved Troutman Alternatives Study, especially to clarify connector roads and the Exit 42 interchange redesign.

The Troutman Pedestrian Plan and Troutman Transportation Plan also need updating to reflect current planning boundaries and consolidate multi-use, pedestrian, and bike paths into one consolidated plan.

Pursuing transportation funding opportunities through grants, low cost loans, and partnerships is also essential to bringing these plans to fruition.

Getting more businesses and services to Troutman is also important to meet citizens’ needs.

Wyatt suggested rebranding the Troutman Business Council to help drive commercial development. He also plans to connect with a local business owner group that meets on Thursday mornings.

Young also suggested recruiting more smaller businesses and a Mast General Store type store to keep folks from having to go to Mooresville for basic needs, though he noted that in previous surveys that residents do not want a lot of “big box” type development here.

A chain restaurant is interested in the old Fifth/Third Bank site, and several local entrepreneurs are interested in opening shops on Wagner Street, according to Wyatt.

Wyatt said the vacant business locations once available are quickly being snapped up in Troutman and elsewhere. The Iredell Economic Development Council was fielding six or seven business interest calls per month last year, but they are now averaging 17 per month.

UPGRADES

The council also discussed several services and projects that are in need of upgrades.

Larry Power of Payroll Solutions in Mooresville presented the services that his company offers that could streamline the town’s payroll, human resources, job evaluations, recruiting, scheduling of leave, and benefits.

The town can choose which services it desires and receive a proposal to provide those services.

Iredell County, Food Lion, and 125 other area companies use Payroll Solutions to manage these functions. Wyatt called it “a tried and true system.” He noted the company could improve employee privacy and help with mandated accountability in record-keeping.

Wyatt also presented the council with a proposal to do a much-needed redesign and update of the town’s website with GovOffice. The new website would be easier to update and be mobile friendly.

Angela Hoover, who along with Parks and Recreation Director Emily Watson does most website updating, suggested the council go with the Progressive Responsive Package, which includes a one time $6,700 website design fee, with hosting maintenance, security, and support for three years costing an additional $5,850.

The service can also be upgraded to include bulk personalized texts for citizen alerts or to push out information.

The council was asked to examine several town websites created by GovOffice at this package level and to examine the proposal more closely for later discussion.

The council also looked at a series of pictures of needed repairs to get its 153 Wagner Street property ready for prospective tenants. Repairs should come in at less than $20,000, which will be covered mostly by collected rent.

Wyatt said the new mural of the town’s updated oar logo on the side of the building should be started as soon as the weather warms to two to three 60 degree days in a row.

The council also selected the proposed trailer wrap using the oar logo on the town’s 12-foot trailer and the logo color version they desire on town vehicles.

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