Photo by Charity Maness
Civil Engineer John VanBeek, with Ferber Construction Engineering presented an update on the progress of the Hot Springs Urban Reconstruction Project.
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – Members of Keep Hot Springs Beautiful (KHSB), as well as members of the community, enjoyed an evening of food, friendship and community information at the Keep Hot Springs Beautiful banquet held at the Red Rock Resort Saturday evening, Nov. 5.
The main speaker for the evening was John VanBeek, President of Ferber Construction Engineering in Rapid City; the engineering firm overseeing the Hot Springs Urban Reconstruction Project. VanBeek’s position at the banquet was to disseminate public information and facilitate communication between the community and the many entities involved in the project.
“Hot Springs is very unique,” said VanBeek, explaining that most often utility relocation is completed in advance of a project yet with this project the utilities are being repaired/replaced in conjunction with the project.
“It’s an honor to work with the variety of contractors on this (project),” he said, “you have a good team and they are all trying to work together.”
Multiple suggestions from those in attendance were brought to VanBeek’s attention such as the possible creation of a stop light at the 385/18 intersection by Big Bats as well as additional and more handicap access to businesses during construction.
While VanBeek said he would bring those thoughts to the project leaders to see what action can be taken, he admitted that the “ship had sailed” on the suggestion to change the parking in front of the Post Office from parallel to diagonal parking.
Addressing the project’s forward motion, VanBeek stated, “The scope of the project changed almost from day one,” pointing to the massive undertaking of a new sewer and water main through Jennings as well as the need to retain the wall of the existing box culvert.
“This had everything to do with the closing of Jennings,” he said. He made mention of supply chain issues, saying that, “if we need a fire hydrant, they are six months out. When Jennings changed we robbed from future projects to complete it.” Yet he assured that future projects will not be affected by this.
“Now, North River Street is more like Jennings with the replacement of the water and sewer but we have planned for that, we don’t have to wait to get supplies,” he said, “however, with the many water main breaks recently those responsible for the underground construction are a bit nervous. There is concern for the crews in the trench during a possible break,” so they are proceeding with caution.
“Additionally, on Jennings the existing box culvert (pictured above) had reached its life expectancy yet was also supporting the businesses along North side of Jennings,” said VanBeek, adding another layer of difficulty to the project.
This culvert, at one time, was also the sidewalk for much of that area.
He addressed the progress of the suspended walkway explaining, “We needed to keep the existing wall structurally sufficient and not mess it up,” he said of the retaining wall along the flood channel length of the river on N. River Street, explaining that the “The suspended bridge should not add any additional weight issue.”
An additional bridge crossing from Centennial Park to N. River Street will also be added.
“Chicago Street should be done by winter,” said VanBeek, “but the dip bridge and 6th Avenue project has been pushed to next year.”
The public is welcome to attend the weekly meetings for the project held Tuesdays at 10 a.m. in the American Legion Hall as well as obtain more information by visiting hotspringsreconstruction.com.
KHSB President Shelley Brown made board member introductions as well as held elections; all board members were re-elected with a resounding ‘yay’ vote. The KHSB board of directors are: President Shelley Hagans-Brown, Vice President: Beth Spitzer, Secretary: Caitlyn Mosset, Treasurer: Cherie Largent, John Notheis, Sandra Merrow, Suzanne Silverson and Laura Smith.
“We have almost doubled our membership in the past year,” said Brown with pride as she spoke to the audience welcoming any in attendance who were not members to consider becoming one.
Brown went on to share the works of the KHSB team and its community volunteers for the 2022 year.
The recycling trailer at Bomgaars collected 3,600 pounds of aluminum and the super recycling event in conjunction with Pacific Steel collected 18,000 pounds of steel and metal. “All of this could have ended up in a landfill,” said Brown, thankful to all who participated.
But the group doesn’t stop there.
They hang Christmas lights in Centennial Park each year to the delight of the town, they hold a Spring Fling, the great American Clean up, Earth Day Rummage Sale, local Home Improvement Project (2022 winner Marce Largent), community clean up days and their passion…planting and caring for the Pods, now called bump outs.
While they operate on donations and funds raised from events the group is also actively seeking grants, most recently receiving $8,500 for use in the pods/bumps outs as well as marketing and more.
For more information on how on KHSB visit keephotspringsbeautiful.org.