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Design Commission gets first look at plans for WTP 4

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 by Kimberly Reeves

Members of the city’s Design Commission got their first look this week at the preliminary design of both buildings and landscaping on the planned Water Treatment Plant 4 project, which should be completed in 2014. City Project Manager Robert Hengst pledged an open dialogue with commission members about the project design, offering to update on a regular basis.

According to Hengst’s presentation, current plans are to maintain as much current tree coverage as possible on the property, which is intended to make the new WTP 4 a more attractive neighbor than the big-box retail commercial user once planned for the corner of RM 620 and Bullick Hollow Road.

“Originally, the plant site was supposed to be a commercial strip center with a big-box retailer and a parking lot, and a lot of clearing of that corner,” Hengst said. “Our plan will conceal most of the plant where the strip center would have been.”

Underground transmission mains will take water in two different directions. The intake point will be on Lake Travis, almost directly below the Oasis Restaurant. All three points are beneath the water surface, regardless of the lake level. 

Hengst appeared somewhat embarrassed to discuss the “Italian villa” look of WTP 4’s raw water pump station. That look was picked, he said, at the request of the original property owner and was intended to blend in with current architecture in the area. The construction will be the closest to the road, and the most visible, on land that is now owned by the city for the water treatment plant.

“It’s not bad looking,” Hengst told the commission. “I’m sure it’s not what we would have picked, but it does match the area. That area will be heavily wooded.”

Hengst said he wasn’t exactly trying to make fun of the design.

“You’re not succeeding in not making fun of it,” Commissioner Richard Weiss noted.

That drew some relaxed laughter from the commission.

Other points made about the WTP 4 design:

·       Trees will only be removed as needed, when needed. Ultimately, the site will be a treatment plant intended to serve up to 300 million-gallons-per-day; still the initial tree clearing will be to only accommodate to the initial 50 MGD plant, Hengst said;

·       Little should be visible to the driver along RM 620, Hengst said. Most of what will be seen, he said, would be the trees along the perimeter. Drivers won’t be able to see the plant site;

·       The balance of the buildings, beyond the raw water treatment plant, will not be Italian villa style. However, two of the three buildings within the WTP 4 complex will likely be ready to achieve silver LEED status; and

·       A consultant continues to work with the project to diminish the sound and light impact on local neighborhoods. Sound will be limited to 65 decibels, and the light poles, and lighting intensity, will be reduced to reduce impact on the area.

The city will return to the Design Commission in January or later, once the landscaping specifics on the WTP 4 are designed, Hengst said.

Vice Chair Jeannie Wigington recused herself from the discussion because her firm, Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM), did some value engineering on the plant and because CDM is providing risk management for the plant.

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