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Personalized Attention with Extensive Resources: Mitigating Municipal Engineering Challenges

Balancing the ever-changing engineering needs of a community with limited resources is a tricky proposition. There are plenty of infrastructure projects that need addressed, but justifying a full-time staff engineer is typically not in the budget for small to mid-size municipalities. With a population hovering over 1,600, the City of Pleasantville, Iowa was faced with this situation in the early 1990s when they choose to partner with Snyder & Associates to serve as their city engineer.

As a multi-disciplined engineering firm, Snyder & Associates offers a full range of municipal engineering services to help towns, cities, and counties manage their public works and development needs. Since 1977, our firm’s approach to municipal engineering has involved assigning each client with a single point of contact, backed by a support staff of over 200 professionals working behind the scenes. This standard provides a level of professionalism that has allowed Pleasantville to tackle large-scale projects, while at the same time providing the flexibility to manage the town’s everyday needs.

Among the services that Snyder & Associates provides for the City of Pleasantville are community and infrastructure planning, site development and survey, subdivision and platting review, traffic studies and pavement management, park and trail design, water resources and wastewater analysis, capital improvement plan (CIP) facilitation, and construction inspection, just to name a few. But perhaps most important, Snyder & Associates brings extensive resources to the table that help the city locate and secure the funding they need to make their project concepts reality.

City Engineer: Extension of Your Municipal Staff

The Snyder & Associates team members assigned to work with the Pleasantville community have forged long-term relationships with city staff throughout this nearly three-decade partnership. These relationships have created continuity and provide us with the insight to develop a better understanding of the goals and direction of the community and their leaders. With this knowledge, we’re better able to define the vision for creating plans that match the city’s needs.

No project is too big or too small for our experienced team. Backed by planners, engineers, designers, landscape architects, surveyors, and construction managers, the city engineer handles all day-to-day issues, with the ability to quickly consult experts in various fields when necessary. Among the varied tasks the city engineer manages are:

  • Parcel split application reviews
  • Communication with regulatory agencies
  • Grants and funding procurement research
  • Consultation with city staff on project progress
  • Regular attendance of city council meetings to provide updates
  • Conducting frequent status meetings with stakeholders during projects
  • Performing right-of-way agent duties

In addition, the city engineer takes a leading role in periodic capital improvement planning (CIP) efforts on the city’s behalf. The CIP acts as a roadmap for ranking future project importance. The CIP often includes stormwater drainage and water system studies performed to assess future community growth.

Municipal Services for Comprehensive Infrastructure Projects: Wastewater Treatment Facility

Beyond providing expert service to handle the daily requirements for the City of Pleasantville, our municipal engineers also take the lead on the city’s large, multi-year projects. The construction of the newly-completed, multimillion-dollar wastewater treatment plant is the largest project in recent city history.

In 2006, Iowa adopted more stringent water quality standards for wastewater discharges to streams and rivers. In the following years, this resulted in many communities being required to upgrade their treatment facilities to achieve compliance with the new standards, improve water quality, and protect public health. Construction of a new facility in Pleasantville was mandated by the Iowa DNR.

The Snyder & Associates team spearheaded this multi-faceted project from start to finish. This included all design work, site analysis, regulatory oversight, construction inspection, and investigating funding sources. One of the funding sources our team determined the city would be able to utilize as a result of the project was the State Revolving Fund (SRF) through the Clean Water program. This program provides funding for locally directed watershed-based projects to address water quality problems.

Maximizing Funding Opportunities to Support Multiple Projects

The drainage capacity of newly-installed, permeable pavers is demonstrated at the Shadle Park ribbon-cutting ceremony.

On a typical SRF project, the city would borrow principal from the fund and repay that principal, plus interest and fees. Through this particular Water Resource Restoration Sponsored Program (WRRSP), another watershed-based project’s cost can be added to the amount the jurisdiction will borrow, but with an overall interest rate reduction. Meaning, the city would not pay any more than they would have for just the wastewater project. The end result is that two projects can be completed for the cost of one.

The Snyder & Associates team, along with the city, identified a potential WRRSP project within Pleasantville’s Shadle Park to apply for this funding. Snyder & Associates provided the expertise to work through the extensive application process. After acceptance into the program, our team then provided all engineering and planning services for the project, including:

Jasper Street (Highway G40) Reconstruction

A wider roadway with curbing and sidewalks is slated for construction on Jasper Street (Highway G40) in Pleasantville.

Another prominent project underway is the complete reconstruction of Highway G40 (locally known as Jasper Street) through the heart of Pleasantville. Jasper Street connects Highway 5 on the west side of town with Hobson Street to the east. It’s also the main conduit leading to Red Rock Lake. The reconstruction of this main roadway aims to bring more traffic into and through the town, with the intent of supporting increased commerce at local businesses. The project includes widening the roadway and adding curbs along both sides, as well as performing a complete water main replacement in the area.

Public buy-in was critical in a project of this nature. To that end, our design team was able to use 3-D visualization software to show several residents what the completed street improvements would look like before work was started. This gave homeowners in the reconstruction area a thorough understanding of how their property would be impacted by the changes.

Similar to the new wastewater treatment facility, Snyder & Associates found multiple funding sources that brought this project to fruition. We provided grant application assistance by obtaining two Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and also utilized the Iowa SRF program, as well. Our knowledge and years of experience with funding options allows the communities we work for to get the best results with the limited resources available.

At Snyder & Associates, we provide our clients with day-to-day services that are proactive, responsive, and cost-effective. We help communities plan responsibly for sustainable growth and we work diligently to nurture strong relationships, appreciate multiple perspectives, and respect the culture of each community we serve. Most important, we know it takes experienced, skilled professionals to hold the trusted position of city or town engineer. We have earned that trust with many cities and towns like Pleasantville.