McAlester city councilors approved measures designed to help ensure the city maintains a sufficient water supply and avoids problems that have resulted in previous outages or low-pressure issues.

Plans include replacing and relocating a large water line on top of the dam close to the city’s water treatment plant near Lake McAlester and replacing a decades-old transmission line that’s been blamed for previous water outages.

City councilors accepted a $141,950 bid from Collins Water Works, LLC, for Section A of the project to relocate a 30-inch city water line. Councilors also authorized the mayor to sign the notice awarding the bid for Section A of the Raw Water Main and Transmission Water Main Improvements project.

“This is for the 30-inch line that’s on top of the McAlester dam,” said Dale Burke, of Infrastructure Solutions, an engineering firm working with the city on the project. The city is involved in a project to place the large water transmission line underground.

City Manager Pete Stasiak said the $141,950 bid is for labor only. Stasiak said the city has already purchased the materials needed for the project.

The entire project cost is from approximately $280,000 to $290,000, said Stasiak.

On another water-related matter, councilors also awarded a $162,500 bid to Built Right Construction LLC, for Section B of the Raw Water Main and Transmission Water Main improvements.

“This is the 20-inch line that goes behind the old water plant,” Burke said.

McAlester Mayor John Browne noted the line was the reason for a previous major water outage in the city.

“We’re going to be capping off that line,” Burke said, referring to the planned actions once the new line is in place. Asked by a city councilor how old the “old” water plant is, Burke said he did not know.

“The ‘new’ plant was built in 1982,” and the “old” plant was worn out then, he said.

Stasiak said the bid on this phase of the project was for labor as well as materials.

Councilors took the actions during their regular Tuesday night meeting at City Hall.

In other action city councilors:

• Approved the purchase of firefighting bunker gear at a cost not to exceed $12,000, with the funds to come from the McAlester Fire Department’s portion of Pittsburg County’s quarter-cent sales tax dedicated to fire departments in the county.

• Accepted a $45,500 bid from Lambert Mechanical, Inc., and authorized the mayor to sign a service agreement to replace the air conditioning system for the White Acre Room at the McAlester Public Library.

• Confirmed the appointments of at-large members Jim “Red” Mills and Ben Capers to join the other volunteer representatives serving on the recently-formed Local Economic Advancement and Advisory Committee. Mills is the former executive director of the McAlester Economic Development Service, while Capers is listed as the owner of Steak ‘n Shake.

Mayor Browne said he made the two appointments, which required the council’s concurrence.

• Passed a resolution to add a new full-time city position at the Recycle Center, upon the recommendation of City Community Services Director Mel Priddy.

He said the Recycling Center has proven to be popular, that the new city position is needed. None of the current Ki Bois workers at the site will be replaced or let go because of the new city position, he said.

• Directed the city staff to research contract options to contract out mowing grass along highways, rights-of-way and various other sites within the city limits that are currently the responsibility of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Priddy and McAlester Land Maintenance Supervisor Sherman Miller told city councilors about the many acres of grass the city’s Parks and Recreation Department keeps mowed along U.S. Highway 270 and U.S. Highway 69 inside the McAlester city limits. That’s in addition to all other city property, including alleys.

Ward 2 Councilor Cully Stevens, who brought the matter before the council, said contracting out the mowing will free up the staff to be able to do more in the Parks and Recreation area.

• Accepted a lease revision between the city of McAlester and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, also upon Priddy’s recommendation.The city originally leased the entire Chaney Park to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, but decided to take back the majority of the park, except for the part where the Girl Scouts building is located.

Referring to the need for more space for teams to practice baseball and softball, the city plans to add an additional backstop on the park property, which is between Seneca Avenue and West Miami Avenue. Under the new contract, the city is leasing the portion of the property where the Girl Scouts building is located to the organization for 50 years, at a cost of $1 per year.

City councilors also approved two budget amendments, one for $169,066, with approximately $16,088 of the amount for the the Arvest Park project and the rest listed as for capital outlays.

The other budget amendment was $740,748, for street reconstruction projects, an asphalt overlay project, lift stations and contingencies.

Acting unanimously to pass or approve the measures were Mayor Browne, along with Ward 2 Councilor Stevens, Ward 4 Councilor James Brown, Ward 5 Councilor Maureen Harrison and Ward 6 Councilor Zach Prichard. Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith and Ward 3 Councilor Travis Read did not attend the meeting.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.