NEW ULM The New Ulm Public Utilities Commission approved Tuesday the $1.443 million bid by Phoenix Fabricators & Erectors, Inc. to build the Nehls Park water tower project.
The project replaces the failing Hermann Heights water tower with a new 250,000-gallon, 165-feet tall, hydro-pillar water tower in Nehls Park. The new tower is designed to supply the entire water needs of the hilltop area's residential properties.
The initial estimated cost was $1.1 million. Public Utilities Engineer Pat Wrase said that the bid was higher than anticipated, but it fell within the expected range. Because there are only four companies in the Midwest that do the particular work required for the project, he doubted putting it out for another bid would significantly reduce the cost.
A recent addition to the water tower project is a separate mezzanine for easy access to the possible seven communication antenna setups that can be installed on the tower. The Hermann Heights water tower currently houses five radio and communication companies, including three cell phone company antennas. The two radio companies have pledged to move to the Nehls Park tower. The cell phone companies have expressed interest but are not committed yet, according to Wrase.
The income from hosting the current five antennas generates $50,000 to $60,000 annually for the PUC. The income from the Nehls Park water tower would go to pay back some of the cost of the project over several years.
(Josh Moniz can e-mailed at email@example.com)