Groundbreaking Launches Wellington Water Treatment Plant’s Upgrade

(L-R) Engineer Bill Reese, Brett Carner from Weiss Construction Group, Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque, Councilwoman Tanya Siskind, Councilman Michael Napoleone, Mayor Anne Gerwig, Vice Mayor Michael Drahos, Councilman John McGovern, Village Manager Paul Schofield and Plant Superintendent Karla Berroteran.

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, members of the Wellington Village Council joined other village officials for a groundbreaking ceremony on a recently approved $17 million upgrade to Wellington’s water treatment plant.

When the project was approved at a council meeting last month, Mayor Anne Gerwig asked if the project was “shovel ready,” to which Village Manager Paul Schofield replied that it was.

Less than a month later, Gerwig and Schofield were among those taking part in the groundbreaking at the plant site on Wellington Trace.

“This is a momentous occasion,” Gerwig said at the start of a brief ceremony. “Water utilities are very important to Wellington. This is a major investment in the community.”

Gerwig went on to tout the fact that the Wellington utility now services some 22,000 customers. She thanked the staff who operate the facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to bring safe water to the village.

Councilman Michael Napoleone was the next to speak.

“It’s an exciting morning for our village,” he said. “This will bring safe, clean, quality water to residents. It will serve the community needs into the future.”

Councilman John McGovern spoke to the larger impact the plant will have on the village.

“This is more than buildings, pipes and pumps,” McGovern said. “It is an important part of a greater, larger effort to improve the community.”

Vice Mayor Michael Drahos echoed the earlier statements.

“This is a big day for all of us,” Drahos said. “This took much hard work by staff, consultants and the council.”

Councilwoman Tanya Siskind used her opportunity to speak to thank the utilities personnel who were in attendance — some of whom had remained after completing an overnight shift.

“I want to celebrate and commend the utilities staff,” Siskind said. “Everyone at this plant will have the tools to provide excellent water for decades to come.”

Following remarks by the council, Schofield made a brief speech to thank and commend the work of the village’s utilities department. He also discussed how much the site has grown since his first visit many years ago and reminisced how at that time, a tree had grown through a pipe from lack of maintenance.

“It’s really a nice thing to be here,” Schofield said. “There is excellence in the work you do every day. Let’s make our utility the best we can possibly make it. Through four hurricanes, this is the only utility that never lost power and service.”

Wellington Utilities Director Shannon LaRocque, who championed the project, was the last of the morning’s speakers.

“It’s not easy to approve a $17 million project,” LaRocque said.

She went on to thank the council, Schofield, Assistant Village Manager Jim Barnes and Director of Administrative & Financial Services Tanya Quickel.

“This is a complex operation,” LaRocque explained. “This is a highly technical facility.”

LaRocque thanked every member of the utilities department in attendance. She singled out Plant Superintendent Karla Berroteran for her leadership of the team.

After the comments by the council and village officials concluded, they moved across the construction site to where golden shovels and hardhats had been prepared.

The council, along with Schofield, LaRocque and Berroteran, were joined by engineer Bill Reese and Brett Carner, the senior project manager for Weiss Construction Group.

A second groundbreaking quickly followed, led by LaRocque and Berroteran, who were joined by the hardworking members of the utilities department.

Following the ceremony, LaRocque gave the Town-Crier a tour of the existing, outdated facility that the new plant will replace. At nearly 30 years old, the plant has outlived its usefulness. The project will replace smaller pumps, recondition the laboratories and control rooms, and include generator fuel system improvements and piping enhancements.

The construction will be done in phases to avoid interruption of service to the many village residents who utilize water from the plant. The project is expected to take two years to complete.

Weiss Construction Group won the contract after submitting the lowest of three qualified bids. The construction will be supervised by Carner.