Perryville City Council accepts $17,300 bid for dam upgrades

The Perryville City Council on Thursday night unanimously accepted a $17,300 bid from Joe Conder of Conder Mobile Welding and Fabrication to make repairs on Perryville’s dam, located about 100 yards from the bridge that goes over Chaplin River.

The vote was 5-0 in approval. City council member Kelly Gray was not present to vote.

Mayor Brian Caldwell said the city had reached out to three different fabricators. City Councilor Steve Bailey said he had received a bid from another fabricator for significantly higher than what Conder offered, and amounts discussed with the third fabricator were significantly higher as well.

Caldwell said Conder is from Boyle County, and when he met with him, Conder said if awarded the bid, he’d fabricate the new dam gates at his site, then bring them out for installation, and he has the equipment to install them. From the time they get built, Conder said the project should be done in a little over a week, according to Caldwell.

“Luckily, right now, we’re not in a huge hurry because we need to keep the water level down anyway because of the bridge construction, but I know it’s kind of been hectic on everybody because everybody wonders why the river level has been going down for the last few years,” Caldwell said during the meeting.

The dam has an old design, with six breakaway steel gates that are 2 feet wide by 12 feet long. The gates have gotten rusty over the years and gotten impacted by water pressure and debris, and they leak.

The plan is to build new gates that are larger in length and width, and also thicker, at about half an inch thick.

“They were pretty thin when they were initially put on,” Caldwell said.

He added, “This bid also — it’s basically taking everything that’s on the dam that is steel and replacing it. So really, he’s going to strip everything down to the concrete dam and replace all the steel.”

There will also be different bolts used, made of stainless steel instead of the steel ones installed last time, as well as replaced hinge rods and mounting plates.

Caldwell said the city desires to have “a watertight seal on the dam and actually have a viable waterfront down there.”

Perryville Fire Chief Anthony Young said that beyond the aesthetics of the river and dam, the gates are also important for fire preparedness.

He said that, if functioning properly, the gates could add about 18 inches of water to the river. On the north and south sides of the nearby bridge, along Smith Street, there are two dry fire hydrants with pipes that go down to the riverbed and allow the fire department. Should they need it, firefighters could pump water from the river to supplement fire protection in the event there was a water main break or other situation that caused a need for an alternative water source.

“So that’s always, from the fire department’s perspective, that’s why it is important for those gates to be up,” Young said.

Without the gates up and fully functioning, the dry hydrants would only have access to shallow water.

In other business, the city council unanimously approved the first reading of the FY 2021-2022 Budget ordinance. The second reading will be July 12 at 7 p.m. during a special called meeting. The city council also approved the first reading of the Code of Ordinances ordinance.