The Star Valley Town Council is looking at how to spend its next round of Community Development Block Grant funds.

Town staff has suggested two different projects for the water department: replacing old, narrow lines to improve distribution; or constructing two storage tanks at the Circle K well site.

The water line project would replace about 550 feet of six-inch pipe that is 60 to 70 years old with eight-inch pipe. With pipes so old, they have become very fragile, so there is a high risk of damage that could lead to water shortages to customers.

The two storage tanks at the Circle K well site would cost more than the CDBG funds the staff expects the town to receive, so the balance would have to come from town resources. The tanks would have to be made of steel, which is already hard to come by and possible delays in the delivery of materials for the project could push completion past the CDBG’s required deadlines. There is also a possibility the cost could go up — most construction materials are seeing substantial increases in cost. So, if the tank project was pushed forward a couple of years, Tim Grier, town manager, suggested the project might become less expensive as material costs leveled out.

The staff wanted to know if the council wanted to choose just one project or try to do both, although it would involve using town funds.

Councilor Sharon Rappaport supported the pipe project.

“Can we do the tanks on our own and the pipes with CDBG money? You’re confident staff can do two major projects at the same time?” Councilor Andy McKinney asked.

Grier said the staff spent about 100 hours reviewing the two projects and deciding which to prioritize. “How long do we keep subsidizing the water department before we raise rates?” he asked. Grier told McKinney the staff could manage two major projects if that is what the council decided it wanted to do. However, the staff recommended the CDBG money be used to replace the old water lines.

“We’re water rich, but the problem is with distribution through old, too narrow lines,” Grier said.

“We should concentrate on what we want to do with money. The pipes fit the bill,” said Mayor Gary Coon. He added the time was not right for constructing storage tanks.

Rappaport said the pipe project is the one she supports and said, “With the tanks we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”

The council will decide on how to spend Star Valley’s CDBG money at its June 15 meeting.

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