Avondale Mills water tower stands off of Hwy 231. Photo submitted

At the regular Pell City City Council meeting on Monday, council members moved forward with plans to restore the Avondale Mills Water Tank.

Bids for the restoration of the 100,000-gallon steel elevated water tank were opened on Dec. 6 and six bids were received. Bids included full restoration options with blasting and recoating the tank and an alternate bid for a less invasive overcoating option.

Tank Pro, Inc. submitted the lowest base bid at $171,057 and the lowest cumulative bid at $116,221. City Council approved the lowest bid option of $116,221, which includes interior and exterior water tank painting and repairs.

The “blast and recoat” option has an estimated life of more than 20 years, while the overcoating process is estimated at 10-12 years.

Currently, the Avondale Mills water tank has a lead-based primer with alkyd chrome aluminum coating. Originally, the alkyd chrome aluminum coating would be reflective and brighter. Due to the age of the tank, the original color is now a dull gray, with large areas of rusted steel.

Original estimates prior to the received bids on the blast and recoat option were $210,784 and overcoat options were projected at $98,784.

Although the exact age of the Avondale Mills water tank is unknown, it is one of the last remaining elements of the Avondale Mills textile plant that closed in 2006. Originally the Pell City Manufacturing Company established in 1901, it was purchased by Avondale Mills in 1919.

Former employees of the Avondale Mills plant spoke with City Council in Nov. about restoration of the tank, citing its historic significance and visibility in the community.

Another existing element of the historic Avondale Mills property is the former administrative building. At a previous council meeting, City Manager Brian Muenger discussed initial bids received to repair the roof on the building.

The City received a grant from the Alabama Historical Commission in the amount of $8,500 to help fund the replacement of the roof. He explained the City unsuccessfully bid the project twice, then revised the scope of work a third time and received a quote from Top Tier Roofing of Oxford, AL, in the amount of $10,280, which was approved by the council.

Additional renovations to the building could cost upwards of $70,000, a cost a local non-profit group, The Heart of Pell City’s Historical Committee, is trying to help raise. With the contingent approval of the city, they envision the former office building as a Pell City History Museum, highlighting the contributions of the citizens of Pell City and influence of Avondale Mills on the socioeconomic growth of the city.

At the Nov. 15 Council meeting, Carol Pappas addressed city council to discuss a proposal for the Pell City Historical Committee to temporarily lease the old Pell City Library building located next to City Hall to be used as a museum. Pappas requested a contingent approval from the City, which would allow the Historical Committee to apply for a grant that could be a financial benefit to the museum. She also stated the group is applying for one of five Alabama Bicentennial exhibits which could be showcased at the museum, along with the How We Worked Smithsonian exhibit about the history of workers in Pell City that was established five years ago.

“Our aim is to establish and maintain a museum that serves the cultural needs of our community and can be a valuable learning center for our young people,” Pappas stated.

City Attorney John Rea advised the building should be ADA compliant, since it would be used as a public place. City Council approved use of the old library building on a temporary basis, contingent on the ADA compliance.

Also at the regular meeting on Monday night, Pell City City Council approved a motion to purchase supplemental cancer insurance coverage for full-time firefighters that have been employed by the city for 12 consecutive months, following the passage of HB360 in the Alabama State Legislature mandating cities to offer additional cancer coverage.

The City approved the least expensive quote for qualifying coverage from Cobbs Allen, underwritten by the Chubb Group, at $184 per firefighter per year. The policy is renewable on a yearly basis and will cost approximately $7,500 per year, based on current full-time firefighters on staff.

Firefighters may be eligible for payments of up to $25,000 per occurrence or a maximum lifetime benefit of $50,000 under qualifying circumstances.

With this plan, if the firefighter leaves employment with the city, they will be eligible to purchase the supplemental cancer coverage insurance on their own.

The Chubb Group also offers on-site employee and supervisor training and assistance with handbook and policy revisions at no additional costs.

The Pell City City Council’s next meeting will be on Monday, Dec. 16 with a work session at 5:30 p.m. and meeting at 7 p.m. at Pell City City Hall.

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