A special meeting was held March 20 by the City of Vandalia Board of Alderman to explain and discuss the ABACUS Project. According to meeting minutes, Mayor Ralph Kuda called the meeting to order and turned the meeting over to City Administrator Darren Berry to explain the ABACUS Project.
Berry addressed the council about the history of the power plant. He said the last time any of the turbines had run was in December 2013.
The turbines, by guess, were installed in the 1940s and updated in 1968-69. He continued saying we no longer get credit from MPUA and they are also out of compliance with the EPA. Utilities Superintendent Aaron Rentfro said in order for us to get the turbines back up to code would cost the city form $25,000-$80,000.
City Administrator Darren Berry explained the ABACUS Group became interested when a realtor was in the area and took some pictures of our power plant. The first offer came in at $10,000 but the realtor mistakenly took pictures of the Iron Clad 69 Whip Tower and Whip. The ABACUS Group set up a time to meet and go through the building to see what they could do. While touring the building, Jeff Wendell discovered asbestos around pipes and on the roof. With the cleanup of the asbestos, that would make their cost go up over $50,000. Wendell stated that they had four of the turbines sold and four they would most likely scrap. The four he has sold are only for parts due to age. He described how they would tear down the building. After the Utilities Department gets all of their stuff out and stores it in the CSI Building, ABACUS will come in and take all of turbines, copper wires and pipes, and metal beams out. The “Turn of the Century” brick will be removed and resold. After everything is out, they plan to bury the building in the old basement by crumbling the bricks into dust. ABACUS will make the basement drainable, level the ground, and clean the area. Jeff Wendell stated he would like 40 days from start to finish with seven days for the actual tear down. This at a price of $1,000 paid to the City.
Alderman John Weiser asked Mayor Kuda his thoughts, and Mayor Kuda stated that he thinks the power plant has outlived its time and thinks we may need the land for our future electrical upgrade. Alderperson Debbie Hopke asked if there were any negatives. Discussion was had about possible negatives but found none. There were no plans on tearing down the deteriorating building because of the cost to the city.
Alderman Weiser expressed concerns about some of the wording of the contract, and City Attorney Amy Rost addressed those issues. Mayor Kuda requested Utilities Superintendent Aaron Rentfro and Utilities Lineman Jeff Gay to make a list of things they need to keep and not include in the sale. Amy Rost stated that this would be a good idea and we would attach it as exhibit A in the contract.
Alderman Ramon Barnes motioned to authorize the City Administrator Berry to complete contract negotiations with ABACUS Industrial holdings, LLC using the same contract as was presented to the Board on March 20, 2019, but additionally including a specific list of property to be retained by the City and a more detailed description of the clean up to be performed by ABACUS, and for the sum of $1,000. The motion was seconded by Alderman Dempsey Dixon, which carried unanimously.