Analysis Complete, City To Study 1929 Water Plant Options Soon

City officials and the public will soon have a chance to give input on what the future of the 1929 water treatment plant will be. The plant has been offline for more than a year following a $34 million expansion of the 1972 plant.

Yankton’s 1929 water plant has stood idle for more than a year, serving as storage and an unused backup plan for COVID-19 social distancing office space.

But that doesn’t mean all has been quiet.

While the process to find a new use for the structure stalled at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, studies still moved forward on the building.

Now, officials say the results are in and the process to find a new use for the building will likely move forward again in the coming months.

“We do have all of the geo-technical analysis available to us now,” Community & Economic Development Director Dave Mingo told the Press & Dakotan. “Whether we enter into discussions with a potential lease-holder or a potential owner, depending upon which way the City Commission goes with a lease or a sale, we wanted all of that information available to anybody that’s interested in the site.”

He said that the city, in addition to wanting the documentation on the building finished, also wanted plenty of opportunities for public input. And while a draft request for proposal (RFP) was finished, the early days of the pandemic made large public gatherings difficult, and the city became focused on continuing service under COVID-19 pandemic conditions.

“We wanted to make sure we had the geo-technical information to include that also in any request for proposals we create,” Mingo said. “And being able to have that complete input process was difficult at the time when the main discussion was had.”

With the addition at the 1972 water treatment plant coming online and there no longer being a huge need for the 1929 plant’s services, Mingo said its use has been rather limited the last year and a half.

“It has still been used by our water treatment plant folks for a few things, including the storage of some items,” he said. “The most recent, time-consuming effort that has taken place is that geo-technical analysis.”

This analysis came at no additional cost to the city, he said.

“We were super fortunate that we were successfully approved for a Brownfields Grant to do that analysis, so it didn’t cost the city anything,” he said. “The State of South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources funded the entire analysis, which is an amazing thing.”

Mingo said that the analysis of the building didn’t raise any major red flags.

“Structurally, everything has come back as being sound,” he said. “Of course, it was built in 1929 so there’s the typical things associated with construction practices in that time period that are there, as they would be anywhere else. There’s no massive mitigation project that needs to occur, but there’s low levels of asbestos and lead on site, just like any house or anything else that would’ve been constructed at that time. As a project develops in the future, those things will have to be considered with construction mitigation activities as appropriate.”

From here, Mingo said that the process of repurposing the structure will start over, albeit with additional information available to the commission and the public.

“We need to have another discussion with the City Commission to kind of reset the process and get their feelings on how to proceed,” he said. “Preliminarily, we had discussed that it would be a long-term lease situation of that riverfront property. The city would maintain ownership of it and enter into some sort of lease agreement for long-term occupancy of some sort of private development. Still on the table is consideration for the potential platting and sale of the property also.”

He said that the board’s decision will determine what’s next in the process.

That’s the first part of the discussion we’re going to have to have with the City Commission — what’s their vision for it from an ownership standpoint? That decision will be the foundation for how we proceed with the RFP for either the long-term lease or the sale.”

Mingo said it’s most likely serious discussions on the 1929 plant’s future will begin after the holidays sometime in January or February.

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