Residents are starting to see some vertical progress at Oakland’s VanderLey Park, where the town is vigorously working on construction of its long-awaited water storage tank and pumping facility. Scaffolding is in place to assist crews while they build the steel infrastructure within the concrete tank walls.
The massive project is costing Oakland nearly $1.8 million. The town took out a 20-year loan from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and this loan is secured by the town’s water rates.
The three major components of the project are the high-service pumping facility ($425,000), the replacement raw water pipeline that connects the Speer Park water well to the new pumping station, and the 500,000-gallon water storage tank (which together cost $630,000). The cost of the electrical and control equipment is $195,000.
There was some controversy when the town commission voted in 2010 to construct the tank in VanderLey Park, which is east of the town center, but the elected officials have devised a plan that will make it less obtrusive.
Oakland spent an extra $40,000 to partially bury the storage tank to minimize the height. The tank will be about as tall as the existing pump station in the park: 16 feet. An additional five feet will be below ground. Another $130,000 is being spent on lush landscaping and park amenities, including sidewalks to connect VanderLey Park to the West Orange Trail, two large covered picnic pavilions and stormwater improvements. The town is still searching for grant money to paint a mural — possibly of the town’s history — around the tank’s exterior.
Preliminary work began at the tank site in February, but an active eagle’s nest at the southwest corner of the property delayed construction for approximately six weeks. Work resumed in mid-April.
The project isn’t just limited to VanderLey Park. While all this activity is taking place at the tank site, crews are simultaneously constructing the new raw water main, Parker said. All utility work should be completed in November, he said.
“While the project is under construction, the town has taken every precaution to minimize any utility service disruptions,” Parker said. “To date, not one residence or business has encountered a loss of water, electric, phone or cable service.”
And what about all the trees?
“The town of Oakland has a long history of protecting its cherished tree canopy,” Parker said. “Through the use of modern, ‘trenchless’ technology, many of the majestic trees along the pipeline route have been preserved. This would not have been possible with traditional excavation.”
Currently, the elevated water storage tank near Town Hall serves the entire town. The 100,000-gallon tank is more than 40 years old, Parker said.
Approximately 12 years ago, the town built a water tank on West Oakland Avenue as an interim measure to provide water service to residents south of Highway 50. Once the new tank is finished, this interim tank will serve as a booster station in times of high water demand in the town.
“When completed,” Parker said, “this much-needed drinking water project will provide consistent water pressures in all areas of the town, provide additional reserve capacity to support system expansion and firefighting capabilities and allow for overall system reliability and efficiency.”