Byron considers 20th Street bike path, UV treatment, expanding sanitary sewer territory
BYRON — Benjamin Lee and Riley Woodhouse, both seventh-graders at Byron Middle School, and Dwight Crossfield, all representing the Biker Bears, addressed the Byron City Council on Tuesday night to talk about the group's fundraising plans to help the city build a walking/biking path along 20th Street.
There are several reasons to build the path, Lee told the council, including that it would connect the high school on County Road 5 to 10th Avenue near Somerby Golf Club and provide a safer route for pedestrians and bicyclists.
"So my grandpa would not have to worry that I will fall into a ditch when a car goes by," Lee said.
He added that the walking/bike path also would provide a health benefit for Byron residents, pointing out that, "the U.S. is the fattest country in the world."
In addition, Lee said,the path could be a memorial to Noah Grady, a 15-year-old Byron student who died last winter.
Crossfield's son, Isaiah, and the Biker Bears are trying to raise funds for the path. They have experience in fundraising, having collected and sent hundreds of bikes to Haiti, Afghanistan and Somalia.
After the presentation, city council members approved an estimated $5,000 in city funding for a feasibility study by WHKS Inc. for the bike path.
City officials said the city had planned to build the project in the future but, as city engineer Bill Angerman from WHKS said, it was nice to have a group ask how they can help the city instead of vice versa.
New UV water treatment equipment
Council members also inspected the new ultra violet treatment equipment at the wastewater treatment plant. The equipment and its installation cost about $500,000, said City Administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft.
After water has been processed by the plant, it runs through a 7-foot-deep channel, and UV light from banks of light bulbs shines through it to kill certain bacteria. This is the final step before the purified water is released into the Zumbro River, explained Angerman and Kevin Strain, who heads up the wastewater treatment plant.
Cities without such a setup must use chlorine to purify water as the final step, and, because of new regulations, must then de-chlorinate the water before it is released into rivers.
The UV treatment is more environmentally friendly and much safer for staff members because they don't have to handle chlorine, Angerman said.
The plant processes an average of about 400,000 gallons of wastewater per day. Ten years ago, the average flow was about the same, said Angerman, adding that water conservation measures, including low-flow toilets and faucets and efforts to reroute sump pump outlets to the storm sewer instead of the sanitary sewer, have been successful.
More growth on the eastern horizon
Owners of about 262 acres on the eastern edge of Byron have shown an interest in developing some of the land so the city ordered an analysis of the sanitary sewer service needs of the area from WHKS.
Tuesday night, council members unanimously approved a feasibility study for installing a lift station and a force main along County State Aid Highway 3 and along Seventh Street Northeast to connect with the existing sanitary sewer system. The cost is about $575,000. It would serve one part of the acreage, which was divided into three parts for the sake of the study. Council members also approved the sewer availability charges for the new territory.
Blair-Hoeft estimated that Byron's population increased by about 9 percent between 2007 and 2013, and the growth is continuing.
So far this year, the city has issued 44 residential permits with three more expected this week, said Byron planning coordinator Janna Monosmith. In 2013, there were 53 permits issued, and there were 42 issued in 2012.
The city council will meet again at 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at Byron City Hall.