The Oakdale Irrigation District has grown out of its office space and the issue has been an ongoing topic of discussion for the past few years. The district office currently leases office space at a neighboring property to accommodate the water department staff members for irrigation and domestic water. The district’s Board of Directors discussed the district office’s need to expand and possibly relocate at the Feb. 2 regular meeting.
Director Al Bairos said he felt that since the district headquarters office is running out of space, that it may be a good time to look into buying property since property values are relatively low. He also referenced the recent expenditures of approximately $250,000 on a new heating and A/C system, landscaping, and other improvements to the current facility.
OID General Manager Steve Knell reported that the current district office sits on approximately five-and-a-half acres. He said that size-wise the amount of land is okay, but that it is an inefficient utilization of the acreage. He cited an underutilized parking area as one example.
There are also some other issues that the current space presents including: outdated facilities where the district will need to do retrofits to the shops and warehouse to be compliant with new codes, inadequate meeting and assembly rooms for training and employee meetings, greater storage needs for materials as construction projects expand, liability risks of on-site hazardous chemical storage, and being surrounded by three schools where heavy equipment coming and going from the yard competes with school children in the mornings and afternoons.
Director Jack Alpers said that buying property sounds like a good idea, but the district should go slow when it comes to building on the property. He also said that it’s important to have the district’s engineering and construction staffers take a look at properties and have input on its functionality. Alpers later added that when the district sells its current office site, located at the intersection of F Street and Johnson Avenue, it will show a substantial profit because of its location, while fringe properties will be cheaper to purchase.
“This site is probably worth half what it was five years ago,” said director Steve Webb, adding that it may be good to buy property, but not to do any building at this time and just take a look at future office needs. He later added that if OID were to buy property for a future district office location, it should purchase at least 10 acres.
Director Herman Doornenbal concurred that property values have come down and it’s a good time to buy — get the land but put off building for a while.
Director Frank Clark noted that there’s no harm in buying property but asked the question of how long the district office’s growth is going to last. He asked if automation in the district would diminish the growth pattern and also stated that there are better places to spend money in the district right now than on a new office facility.
Knell stated that the district “has been at this” for five years and that it knows of sites that are attractive to OID. The board decided to set up an Ad Hoc committee consisting of Doornenbal, Webb, and possibly Alpers. Those committee members will meet and make suggestions to the board at a future date.
In the general manager’s report, Knell stated that representatives from Rubicon Management Systems, an Australian water control systems company, analyzed the OID systems over the course of three days to select demonstration canals that may work for their water control systems proposal. He said that they selected the Claribel canal and the Cometa lateral. Knell said that OID’s current system is all upstream control, but that the Rubicon gates will offer downstream control, there won’t be spill going out of the system, and since every gate is recorded it can regulate and readjust the water. This will also let the district know if water is being taken without permission and from where. Knell stated that the Cometa feeds one of the highest outflow divisions in the district that is usually “feast or famine” with water control. The Rubicon system would provide a steady head of water and address the problem.
The next regular meeting of the OID Board of Directors will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the OID offices, 1205 East F.