Originally Published in The Weirton Daily Times
September 17, 2019
By Craig Howell
WEIRTON – The city’s utilities boards are moving ahead with plans which could see the expansion of Weirton’s water and sanitary treatment plants with an eye toward future economic and residential development in the community.
During their meetings Thursday, members of the Weirton Area Water Board and the Weirton Sanitary Board appointed their individual selection committees to interview prospective professional contractors to assist in guiding the projects.
For the Sanitary Board, board members Robert Gribben and Tom Banketas will conduct interviews for proposals concerning the wastewater treatment plant. Jim Shockley and Don Gianni Jr. will conduct interviews on behalf of the Weirton Area Water Board for the city’s water treatment plant. Both subcommittees will receive guidance from the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission.
Utilities Director Butch Mastrantoni noted there were two engineering firms, two legal firms and one accounting firm submitting proposals with each board.
“We had advertisements in the newspaper,” Mastrantoni said.
Shockley, the chair of the Water Board, asked if council would have any involvement in the selection process, with Mastrantoni stating council, as the city’s governing body, would make the final decisions on all aspects of the project.
Mayor Harold Miller, who chairs the Sanitary Board, said recent information from the Frontier Group of Companies, currently handling demolition and redevelopment of former steel-making property in the city, as well as a meeting with staff from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s office, has brought city officials a better idea of potential development coming to the area.
“I think it hit home with them,” Miller said. “They’re starting to see the light.”
The development opportunities have been cited as the guiding reason for the treatment plant expansion projects.
As part of discussion with both boards, Mastrantoni also took issue with statements made in a Sept. 8 letter to the editor in The Weirton Daily Times.
“Oftentimes, there are naysayers in the community that find the negative in everything,” Mastrantoni said.
In particular, Mastrantoni countered claims made in the letter that expansion wasn’t needed because of an alleged 25 percent reserve capacity at both plants.
“We do not have a 25 percent excess capacity,” he said, explaining the wastewater plant has, at most, a 6 percent reserve capacity and the water treatment plant has between 3 and 4 percent.
Proposals include doubling the water treatment plant from a 4 million-gallons-per-day capability to 8 million-gallons-per-day, with a plan for the wastewater treatment plant to go from 4 MGD to 12 MGD.
Those guidelines were created with the knowledge of water and sanitary staff, as well as members of a recently dissolved task force.
“Our professionals have done the work,” Mastrantoni said.