In full disclosure for anyone who is reading this column and does not know who I am, I am the president of the Tanglewood Neighborhood Association (TNAi). I have held that position since August 2017. So, I have been front and center in the FPB’s reservoir project debate for nearly two years.
This is written in response to Richard Rosen’s column (“City commission should let Planning and Zoning do its job on Tanglewood reservoir," Aug. 8).
Step 1 – What volume of water should the tank hold?
Rosen states: “Based on charts I’ve seen, it looks like we need a reservoir that holds somewhere around 7 million gallons. Maybe 6.5 or 7.5 million gallons, but 7 million is a good number.” The neighborhood believes that, based on past historical water distribution and projected future water distribution provided by the FPB, the new reservoir needs to hold approximately 9.2 million gallons of water, the same as it contains now. Although, it is important to point out that during the nine months to a year that it takes to construct the new reservoir, the FPB plans to make do with only having 4.6 million gallons of water available at the Tanglewood site.
Rosen also states, “You don’t want to think short term or else you will find that in another decade or two we will need to go through this all over again.” Rosen is correct, and that is the neighborhood’s biggest concern with this project.
If you build a tank that only meets the storage needs as they are today, then any additional water storage needs would trigger a second tank having to be built. Every plan prepared by FPB either shows or allows for the two 7-million-gallon tanks. And two 7-million-gallon tanks cost more than two 4.6-million-gallon tanks.
Step 2 – What is the most economical shape for the tank?
TNAi has never disputed the shape of any new tank. Only the width and height.
Step 3 – What is the best place to put the tank?
When the reservoir project first came up, the neighborhood proposed that a new reservoir should be deemed as industrial use and located in an appropriate area closer to the water treatment plant. This stance was not limited to the new reservoir plans.
For years, the neighborhood has watched as the FPB has creeped over the property with a two-story headend building, satellite dishes, an antenna tower, an electrical substation and parking for its commercial work vehicles.
The FPB explained its decision for putting the reservoir back on the Tanglewood site in primarily two reasons. The pump stations are gravity fed from the reservoir and therefore the reservoir must be at a certain elevation. Sites around the community with that elevation are very limited.
The second reason was the cost, which FPB estimated between $2 million and $6 million. TNAi listened to the FPB’s reasoning for putting it back on the Tanglewood site, and ultimately decided, based upon FPB numbers, that it was in the community’s best interest for the new reservoir(s) to go in the same place as the existing. TNAi notified the FPB that the neighborhood would not object to the new reservoir(s) being built on the Tanglewood site if the visual impact to the neighborhood was not changed.
Step 4 – How to improve the appearance of the finished water tank?
According to FPB's reservoir proposal, the new tank(s) will be 188 feet in diameter and with the full dome roof will be 46½ feet of visible concrete sidewall and roof on the neighborhood side. I encourage anyone who wants to get a good idea of that would look like to drive by the Frankfort City Hall. Take the entire complex, including the old FPB administration, the fire station, City Hall and the planning and zoning offices. Stack that entire complex on top of itself and you will have a very good idea of what the FPB is proposing to do with just one tank.
When the second tank goes in on the Tanglewood site there will the equivalent of four of these complexes dropped into the neighborhood. You can’t “almost obscure” anything that size. Shrubs and flowers do not obscure something that is 46½ feet tall.
Every time someone from the FPB tries to sell me on how good this is going to look when the tank(s) are built, I can’t help thinking of something my father use to say to me as a child, “It’s like the wolves inviting the sheep over for dinner.”
Rosen states that “if Planning and Zoning rejected the FPB plan for other reasons, then it reeks of politics and favoritism for some special interest."
I don’t have a clue about the political makeup of the planning commission. My assumption is that it is probably a representation of the entire political spectrum. But one fact that neither Rosen nor the FPB can hide from is that the planning vote to reject the FPB’s plan was unanimous. Not a single member of that commission, regardless of where they personally fall on the political spectrum, voted that the FPB’s plan met the Comprehensive Plan.
Rosen’s questions at the end of his editorial were disingenuous at best. Rosen should know the answer to every one of those questions. The planning commission issued "Conclusions & Recommendations" based on the testimony that it received during the public meeting regarding the FPB’s plan. These conclusions and recommendations list the exact reasons why the FPB’s plan was rejected.
This information is public knowledge and I find it extremely hard to believe that the husband of the chairwoman of the FPB Board of Directors has not seen this information.
Nathan A. Van Sickel is president of the Tanglewood Neighborhood Association. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.