i Love Piqua Community Workshop Series

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The Piqua community will now benefit from a new innovative community workshop series that promotes positive happenings, involvement, and leadership.  The i Love Piqua Community Workshop Series has been created by civic leaders to provide inspirational and motivational opportunities throughout the year to demonstrate and encourage citizens to become engaged and involved in helping our community.

Scheduled in 2015 are Brandon Johnson and Peter Kageyama.  Both are nationally known speakers.

Peter Kageyama will be in Piqua on June 2nd to present the For the Love of Cities workshop.  To learn more about Peter and his presentation, please go to the following link at http://fortheloveofcities.com/community-workshops/.

Brandon Johnson, the Positive Energy Guy, will visit Piqua in Piqua in August to present the Heart of a Leader workshop.  More information on Brandon can be found at http://brandonwjohnson.com/.

The newly created i Love Piqua Community Workshop Series Facebook Page provides more details on each one of these events and how to register to attend.

I encourage residents to take advantage of hearing these nationally known speakers and learn what you can do for your community.

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The Future of Providing Energy in Piqua

Power work

This article appeared in the February 28, 2015 edition of the Piqua Daily Call and is co-authored by Ed Krieger, Director of the Piqua Power System.

Several years ago, the City of Piqua, through the efforts of the Energy Board and the Piqua Power System, began planning the most efficient and economical way to provide and deliver electric to Piqua Power customers.  The strategy was to move from a market driven purchase of energy to an asset driven.  This was an important and beneficial decision because of the fluctuating costs of buying power on the open market.  This is much like what we are facing currently with gas prices.

The most recent changes to electrical billing by the City of Piqua was a result of a rate study conducted to move costs from the mostly market driven to the asset driven approach. Any customers with a billing question are encouraged to contact the Utility Billing Office to have their accounts analyzed and explained. To date, over 500 customers have taken advantage of this service in the past week with only one error being found on a meter reading.

A number of issues have been raised about the new rate structure and the following information attempts to address these concerns.

Why don’t the numbers add up?

It is true that the base charges are increasing for Piqua’s residential, commercial and industrial customers.  What is missing is the Power Cost Adjustment or PCA.  When comparing the old rates to the new rates, the PCA has changed from a positive number of $0.0175 for all kilowatt-hours (kWh) consumed to a negative number of -$0.00731 for all kWh used.  The current PCA value is listed under the special message section on your bill.

What about this 2% increase?

750 kWh is considered by many in the electric industry to be a typical monthly average residential consumer.  Therefore, when you input 750 kWh into the new rate calculation (including the current PCA credit), the result will be an increase of $1.74 per month or 2% over the rates that were in place in December of 2014.  However, cold January weather and extra billing days due to the Holidays have resulted in the majority of Piqua customers with energy consumption well over 750 kWh for January.  The good news is that as your consumption increases, your percentage of rate change actually decreases.  In fact, when you reach 1,029 kWh, you are actually saving money compared to electric costs under the old rates.

Why are electric rates changing now?

The cost-of-service study completed in 2014 identified the need to update existing rates.  As Piqua has moved from purchasing the majority of our energy from the market to owning portions of generating assets through our relationship with American Municipal Power (AMP), our cost to serve our customers has changed.  Piqua now has a diverse generation portfolio that includes clean-coal, natural gas and renewable (wind & hydro) resources.  This long-term strategy should serve Piqua electric customers well for years to come with resulting stable and predictable generation costs.

How does this impact Piqua’s Commercial and Industrial Customers?

Many Piqua businesses will actually see a cost reduction with the new electric rates.  Some may see a slight increase, but most will see a reduction of up to 3% or more.  The cost-of-service study recommended rate re-alignment as Piqua’s large consistent users of electricity were helping to cover the cost of serving Piqua’s residential customers.  On September 23, 2014, the Piqua Energy Board recommended City Commission approval of the revised electric rates.  The Piqua City Commission formally adopted the new electric rates on December 16, 2014.  It should be noted that the Piqua Energy Board is comprised of an equal representation of Piqua residential, commercial and industrial customers, to ensure all customer class interests are fairly considered.

How do the new rates compare to area electric suppliers?

Piqua electric customers continue to enjoy some of the lowest electric costs in the region.  Current calculations show Piqua’s residential rates to be approximately 20% below The Dayton Power & Light Company’s filed tariff rates.  Quite interestingly, that 20% margin is the same savings stated by Piqua leaders during the depression when the decision was made to build a competing electric system.  Obviously, that decision continues to serve our residents and businesses well.  On average, Piqua electric rates save residents hundreds of dollars annually, our commercial customers save thousands, while our largest industrial users save tens of thousands of dollars per year.

The Piqua Power System continues to be an asset to all Piqua customers.

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Understanding The Reality Of A Small MS4

??????????????????????????????? The following article was written by Devon Alexander, Stormwater Coordinator for the City of Piqua.  This article was published in the January 2015 issue of the Buckeye Bulletin, official publication of the Ohio Water Environment Association.

 

Great Miami Flooding

Introduction – Located in western Ohio, just 30 minutes north of Dayton, Ohio, the City of Piqua is the picturesque image of a river town along the Great Miami River with a steady population of just over 20,000 residents. Like most small MS4’s, the challenges to meet and exceed the EPA requirements and internal expectations are always a challenge. On one hand we have our guidelines that are handed down through the Ohio EPA with the NPDES permit requirements. On the other hand we have an aging infrastructure, with limited dollars, and a belt that can only stretch so far. These are the challenges that I would assume some if not all municipalities in our size range are encountering in their push to meet their permit requirements. Thankfully, here in Piqua we have our own Storm Water Utility which generates roughly $900,000 a year. That sounds like a lot for a small program, but as I said before, aging infrastructure, permit requirements, and other administrative cost can really make that go away in a flash! So let me pose a question to all the readers. What is really obtainable when it comes to covering all the bases of Storm Water, with a limited budget?

Current Structure – Being the Storm Water Coordinator since 2010, I have always taken a approach that we have a two part system here in Piqua. We obviously have our annual NPDES permit requirements to meet, but we also must give attention to the system itself, and the aging infrastructure. Some might agree or disagree with this method, but for the past 5 years it has worked well for Piqua.

Meeting our NPDES requirements is not a difficult as one may think. We love outreach here in Piqua. Public relations are the funniest and easiest way to get information out to the community and see the biggest impact. We do articles in the quarterly flyers, we have an annual educational program with the Jr. High school that interacts with the students, we have the ability of local access cable shows, we have informational flyers for the public, and we have an open door policy for individuals to come in and meet us face to face with any questions they may have. With the ability to communicate to the public, it also leads to the ability to have them be our eyes and ears since the storm water department has a staff of one individual, that being I.

We are always addressing any spill or illicit discharge with the same level of concern regardless of the size or severity of it. Doing pre and post construction review of new developments to insure that proper protocol by contractors is being adhered to for storm water site preservation. Just as important is holding those same standards for our own city employees and the projects they are doing as well. Going out on site to see the projects, and seeing firsthand what is happening is key to controlling a successful storm water program.

The other side of the equation is dealing with an aging storm water infrastructure system, and maintaining it to a healthy standard. When the storm water program began our first goal was to get an accurate map of the system. We had an old drawn paper map that dated over 50 years old and frankly, we just really were not sure how accurate it was. Like most other cities, our old map was severely out dated and was in need of a revamp. So we went out, hired a consultant, and over the course of almost 2 years they mapped every storm water structure (man holes, catch basins, storm pipes) as well as recorded other essential data and implemented it into a new GIS system for us. The results were staggering. For example we originally assumed that we had between 2000-2500 storm water structures. When the new GIS map was completed it was realized we had almost 8000 structures. The key point that I am trying to convey is that it is extremely important to know what you have.

Knowing what you have will let you then target what needs to be addressed, and in what order it needs address. As mentioned above, limited budgets mean picking and choosing which project will have the biggest impact and best result for the city.

We strive to focus on making sure that damaged or dilapidated catch basins get repaired when needed. We also have our underground utility crews do annual cleaning and televising of the system to check for the integrity of the pipes. We also coordinate a lot of the repair to go along side the City’s annual paving schedule. Going in beforehand and making the repairs, replacing catch basins and storm pipe before the street is redone.

To wrap up the structure portion, I think it is important to realize that planning is everything when it comes to Storm Water. In 2012 we set out to do an in-depth master plan for the City. We realized that to set goals, and know what direction we wanted to go, it was the necessary step needed.  Without a master plan it would have had us shooting off in different directions with no real sight of where we were heading. The master plan is still a work in progress today. We have completed a general overview of the city, targeted areas that we felt were of the most concern, and have set out a 10 year plan. Also, we are evaluating annually new areas of concern so we are continually building the master plan.

The Future – As the old adage goes, “If the wheel isn’t broke, don’t fix it”.  Ideally, I think that’s the general premise of how I would like to see our storm water program continue. Now, keep in mind I am not set in my ways, and I do believe that innovation and new methods are just as important. It has to be a healthy combination of all aspects meshing together. We already know that every five year permit cycle will come and go, and with that will be new rules and regulations. MS4 communities will adapt to those changes and meet compliance, but the key is to stay within your means, and not shoot for the stars. Understanding the reality that you have to work with what you have.

I foresee that here in Piqua we will continue to focus meeting our annual permit requirements while trying to manage and repair and aging infrastructure system. We have in the past, and will in the future continue to look for other avenues when it comes to funding projects. There is a vast world of grants that can be obtained to help ease that financial burden.

In closing, I would like to divulge what I personally feel is the greatest tool that stormwater professionals have at their disposal. Public education is a huge part of it. Reaching out to the young school aged kids is a great start. They take information home to mom and dad, and that information spreads.

It might be the hardest to convey, it might be the biggest challenge we will meet in our careers, it might be the most unlikely. The most single import tool that we have at our disposal is the people who live in the community we work for.  Regardless of their age, or life path, the people of the community are our biggest assets. As I said before, they are our eyes and ears when we can’t be everywhere to see every problem. They are the information givers who warn their next door neighbors that they might be effecting the environment by over applying yard fertilizers. They are the real award winners because they live, breathe, and sleep in the community that you are trying to make a better place for them. They are the single most important asset that we have.

I really hope that this brief overview of the City of Piqua storm water program can give you insight and possible ideas for your community. I always engaged for new ideas, and love sharing our process. I would encourage any reader that has questions to contact me, and see what new ideas can come. Realize there is no perfect formula. There is just the reality of what works for you in your community.

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Opportunities to Volunteer in 2015

A very important ingredient in the success of a community is the amount of citizen engagement and involvement that occurs.  Informed and active participation of citizens helps a community to be responsive to the development of a Quality of Place and creating a Quality of Place not only attracts new residents and businesses, but it tremendously benefits existing residents.

Now that we’ve entered into a new year, I hope residents will consider participating in one of a number of programs designed for citizen involvement.  Here’s a few to consider:

Volunteer Park Ranger

The Volunteer Park Ranger Program utilizes citizens to patrol city trails and parks to look for problems and provide visibility at these facilities.

 

INVOLVE

Involve helps residents that may not be able to perform routine maintenance of tasks at their home such as shoveling of their driveway or sidewalk, removing a dead tree limb, or replacing a shutter.

Piqua Clean Up Day 15

Spend the day helping clean public sites, downtown areas, riverfront, or your own neighborhood.
 

 

Adopt_Park

Adopt a park, street, landscaped area, or a number of other possibilities to help maintain them and keep the city looking good.

 

I hope you will consider getting involved in 2015.  For more information on these and other programs call the City Manager’s Office at 778-2051 or go to our City of Piqua website at http://www.piquaoh.org.

 

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New Water Treatment Plant Construction Underway

water treatment plant final

The Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Water Treatment Plant took place on January 28th at the Hardin Road site.  The new plant is expected to be on-line within the next 30 months.  The facility was designed by CDM Smith and construction awarded to Peterson Construction.

The plant will provide for a capacity of 6.75 million gallons per day (MGD) with the ability to add another 2.25 MGD for 9.0 MGD.  The treatment of surface water will include conventional lime softening, clarification, stabilization, filtration, post-filter GAC contactors, fluoridation, and free chlorine disinfection.

The current Water Treatment Plant is 90 years old and cannot meet new EPA regulations which required the construction of a new facility.

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WTP10  WTP5

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Winans – Riverfront Redevelopment Anchor

Winan's

Thanks to the great vision and commitment to Piqua of Joe and Laurie Reiser, Winans Fine Chocolates & Coffees began converting the former Piqua Daily Call building located in downtown Piqua into their combined chocolate and coffee factories and retail store.  The project is expected to be completed this year and is the anchor of the new Riverfront Redevelopment Renaissance.

Once completed, tours of the factories will be available for groups and individuals which should make the business a popular destination and tourism venue.  Along with the retail store, classes and conferences on chocolate and coffee are planned and should draw lots of visitors and business to Piqua.

This is an exciting time and for the City of Piqua along with a promising future.  We simply ask that you Imagine Piqua!

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Why Build Roundabouts?

Looney & Garbrey Roundabout

It is not unusual for changes to street configurations to be criticized and great concern expressed on how it will negatively impact the community.  The same concerns happen when changes are made to trash collection, voting locations, or school attendance boundaries.  It’s different and seen as an unnecessary change.

But change is needed in communities.  Communities that do not change over a period of time realize one day that their city has deteriorated and wonder how it happened.  It happened because change stopped and without change communities die.

Part of the renaissance effort underway in Piqua is to develop the most effective way of dealing with problem traffic locations within the community.  The Looney-Garbry intersection has been identified by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) as one of the most unsafe intersections in the region.  The challenge is to alleviate the safety issues with a design that decreases the potential of accidents while efficiently moving traffic.

The design solution to this issue is a roundabout.  The following information is provided by the Federal Highway Administration to help convey the benefits of roundabouts.

Benefits of Roundabouts

Roundabouts are becoming more popular based on the multiple opportunities to improve safety and operational efficiency, and provide other benefits. Of course, roundabouts are not always feasible and do not always provide the optimal solution for every problem. The benefits of roundabout intersections, and some constraining factors, are described below.

  • Traffic Safety – Numerous studies have shown significant safety improvements at intersections converted from conventional forms to roundabouts. The physical shape of roundabouts eliminate crossing conflicts that are present at conventional intersections, thus reducing the total number of potential conflict points and the most severe of those conflict points. The most comprehensive and recent study showed overall reductions of 35 percent in total crashes and 76 percent in injury crashes. Severe, incapacitating injuries and fatalities are rare, with one study reporting 89-percent reduction in these types of crashes and another reporting 100-percent reduction in fatalities.
  • Operational Performance – When operating within their capacity, roundabouts typically have lower overall delay than signalized and all-way stop-controlled intersections. The delay reduction is often most significant during non-peak traffic periods. These performance benefits can often result in reduced lane requirements between intersections. When used at the terminals of freeway interchanges, roundabouts can often reduce lane requirements for bridges over or under the freeway, thus substantially reducing construction costs. However, as yield-controlled intersections, roundabouts do not provide priority to specific users such as trains, transit, or emergency vehicles.
  • Environmental Factors – Roundabouts often provide environmental benefits by reducing vehicle delay and the number and duration of stops compared with signalized or all-way stop-controlled alternatives. Even when there are heavy volumes, vehicles continue to advance slowly in moving queues rather than coming to a complete stop. This can reduce noise and air quality impacts and fuel consumption significantly by reducing the number of acceleration/deceleration cycles and the time spent idling.
  • Access Management – Because roundabouts can facilitate U-turns, they can be a key element of a comprehensive access management strategy to reduce or eliminate left-turn movements at driveways between major intersections.
  • Traffic Calming – Roundabouts can have traffic calming effects on streets by reducing vehicle speeds using geometric design rather than relying solely on traffic control devices.
  • Pedestrian Safety – Due to the reduction of vehicle speeds in and around the intersection, roundabouts can improve pedestrian crossing opportunities. Additionally, the splitter island refuge area provides the ability for pedestrians to focus on one traffic stream at a time while crossing. However, pedestrians with visual impairments may not receive the same level of information at a roundabout as at a typical signalized intersection, and they may require additional treatments, such as pedestrian signalization. Specific design treatments for enhancing accessibility for visually impaired pedestrians are receiving continued study.
  • Aesthetics – The central island and splitter islands offer the opportunity to provide attractive entries or centerpieces to communities through use of landscaping, monuments, and art, provided that they are appropriate for the speed environment in which the roundabout is located.
  • Land Use – Roundabouts can provide a transition area between high-speed rural and low-speed urban environments. They can also be used to demarcate commercial areas from residential areas.
  • Ongoing Operations and Maintenance – A roundabout typically has lower operating and maintenance costs than a traffic signal due to the lack of technical hardware, signal timing equipment, and electricity needs. Roundabouts also provide substantial cost savings to society due to the reduction in crashes, particularly fatal and injury crashes, over their service life. As a result, the overall life cycle costs of a roundabout can be significantly less than that of a signalized intersection.
  • Approach Roadway Width – A roundabout may reduce the amount of widening needed on the approach roadways in comparison to alternative intersection forms. While signalized or stop-controlled intersections can require adding lengthy left-turn and/or right-turn lanes, a roundabout may enable maintaining a narrower cross section in advance of the intersection. However, roundabouts usually require more space for the circulatory roadway, central island, and sidewalks than the typically rectangular space inside traditional intersections.

Before you pass negative judgment on roundabouts, you should take time to look at the success of other nearby cities such as Carmel and Fishers, Indiana and Dublin, Ohio with constructing roundabouts instead of traditional intersections.  I think you will be surprised.

 

 

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