Flagler Irrigation System Replacement

On Wednesday night, July 18, 2012, the Town of Lake Park will have their commission meeting starting at 7:00 pm. While there are several items on the agenda, one item in particular is coming back for discussion and that is the Flagler Blvd. Irrigation System.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of discussion about this system at commission meetings. The system stopped working about 6 years ago. Not sure as to the real reason but over time, the pumps and controls had been removed and used in other locations of the town.

Then, about 2 years ago, the town commission decided to have someone come in and look at the existing system. The irrigation company came in at no charge to the town and checked the existing wells. The wells tested find and useable so they proceeded to connect the irrigation piping up to a pump and test the valve system.

Based on this test, the irrigation company felt that the existing system was in good working condition. The town commission voted on spending $6000 to install two new pumps, controllers and timers. This cost also included to locate the valves for each zone. However, the cost did not include the cost to locate the three hundred sprinkler heads.

The irrigation company completed their work of installing the pumps and all the controls and located 90% of the valves. Now keep in mind that this sprinkler system uses water pressure to control the valves. This is a hydraulic type irrigation system, which was used mostly at golf courses and ball fields in years past going back to the 70’s and 80’s.

Some people will say that they system needs to be replaced while others say that the system is find for now. Replace it in the future when the economy gets better and money is not so tight. Anyway, the irrigation company had the system working and after running the pump, found that 40% of the heads functioned while 30% had just a wet spot on the ground and the rest were not seen.

The town public works director decided that their personnel were unable to spend time to located and replace the heads so they requested from the irrigation company a cost estimate for the work. The cost estimate was about $15,000 not to exceed to located and replace approximately 300 sprinkler heads. The town decided not to spend the money so the system became a waste of time and money spent and was unused to date.

During the past year, the town decided to take a block grant from the county and replace the existing irrigation system complete. The grant was for approximately $53,000 and had to be used to install a new system and not repair the old system. As it was stated, its free money so why not. We would rather take the money then to give it to some other town that might really need it as mentioned by a couple of the commissioners.

The town put together a bid package. Part of this bid package was a mandatory pre-bid meeting. From what has been told, there were a number of contractors that showed up but only three contractors turned in a bid for the project. However, the low bidder was approximately $15,000 over the grant money so now the town has to come up with this difference if they plan to award the contract to the lowest bidder.

Now keep in mind that the existing system is in working condition. All it needs is to have the heads located and replaced. Yes, the one pump house has to have the electrical service rework but that is only around $1,500 total. To replace the heads would be around $1000 based on the heads costing a little over $3.00 each. The real labor is to locate the heads so you can replace them and that is just time.

Oh, did I forget to mention that half of the heads did get located on the one pump system and a flag was placed at each location. It only took approximately 20 hours of labor to located, dig up and repair or clean the heads. It was estimated that only about 25 hours would be needed to locate the rest of the heads on the other half but that was shot down because the town did not have the personnel who knew how to locate sprinkler heads or the money to spend to hire someone.

What was funny was to listen to some of the commissioners make statements at the commission meeting that because of this work in locating the sprinkler heads on one-half, it was now costing more money to the town because the public works department had to go around the flags located at each sprinkler head. In addition, they had to mow the grass more often than before the repair of the system.

Well now, the town is going to vote to spend $65,000 to repair the existing system. Oh, I mean that they will approve to remove and replace the existing system with a complete new system. Oh yea, it is also budget time and the town is planning to lay off a couple of staff from public works because the town does not have the money to pay them in this year’s budget.

Is it me or is something wrong with this picture. This is why the town residence need to get involved with what is happening within the town. If the citizens got involved in how money was spent by the government, there would not be such a waste. Most government employees and elected officials prefer that citizens do not get involved. This way they can spend your hard-earned money however they want. That includes getting higher pay and benefits for themselves.

This kind of waste is not only tied to local government, but all the way up to the federal government and because of this, our taxes will continue to climb in years to come.