By: Tracy Dishman—
Muncie, IN—My trash is picked up on time, my inside plumbing flushes away what I don’t want, and I have little worry about flooded streets keeping me from my job on stormy days.
As community members, we don’t often think about underground drainage systems or the logistics of getting storm water from one end of the city to the other, but a small group of very dedicated and passionate individuals do.
“This Board of Directors has been busier in these past four years than the total twenty years that I’ve been a part of it,” said Nikki Grigsby, District Administrator of the Muncie Sanitary District.
Nikki and her team of the Muncie Sanitary District Board of Directors, Bill Smith, Mike Cline, and Joe Evans, have a wealth of “Legacy” projects in their portfolios.
The Canal Project
“It’s all about sustainability. You take the environment, economic development, and the neighborhoods into account,” began Mike Cline, Vice President and PE for the Muncie Sanitary District Board of Directors, when sharing the story about the Canal Project through downtown Muncie. “How can a canal project and a sewer underground benefit the neighborhood and help economic development in the city—something that people will enjoy 30 years from now?”
“When looking at downtown redevelopment, we knew that the drainage system that went right through the heart of downtown was only 18” in diameter. There was no way this was going to accommodate the growth of downtown Muncie and the surrounding neighborhoods,” stated Mayor of Muncie Dennis Tyler.
The Muncie Sanitary District developed a creative plan to address this issue.
“Why not put the system above ground and create a space for all to enjoy?” added Muncie Sanitary District Board Secretary and fourth-year board member Joe Evans when sharing the canal project story.
The Canal Project, newly named “Liberty Pass,” is part of a Muncie Sanitary District project to move storm water from downtown and the south side of Muncie to White River on the north edge of downtown. Instead of digging up blocks of streets to put in new pipe to upgrade an old underground storm water system, the Muncie Sanitary District worked creatively and in partnership with other local agencies. The results? A dramatic overhaul to an outdated system to support Muncie’s downtown growth. This also created a development that gives the neighborhood pride of ownership, economic growth, and a legacy for the community to enjoy for years to come.
“Not too long ago, Muncie Sanitary District had a completely depreciated fleet of vehicles: trash trucks, street sweepers, and sewer cleaning trucks,” said Mike Cline. Spear-heading an idea on how to make a change to the trash collection process and upgrade the fleet was Bill Smith, president and 17-year member of the Muncie Sanitary District Board, and Nikki Grigsby, district administrator for the Muncie Sanitary District.
“We not only wanted the upgrades. We also wanted to get ahead of the curve on gasoline prices, be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money, and still work within mandated guidelines,” stated Grigsby.
Right across the street from the location where the truck fleets are stored was an old dump—a brownfield that had sat there for years and would probably have sat there for another generation to deal with. Again, in support of the mission of the Muncie Sanitary District Board, a blighted area was transformed into an award-winning, showcase project that is open to use by the public.
“The Muncie Sanitary District’s vision has always been to be cleaner, greener, and more cost-effective,” explained Grigsby. “By balancing today’s environmental resources through sustainable practices—such as converting our fleet from diesel to CNG—we reinforce this commitment.”
Muncie Sanitary District was awarded the 2017 Natural Gas Award, recognizing GreenLine as East Central Indiana’s first municipally-owned CNG station. The award was accepted by Mayor Dennis Tyler—who saw the potential of the Muncie Sanitary District Board of Directors’ vision to create GreenLine—on behalf of the City of Muncie.
Madison Street Underpass
If you’re from Muncie or have spent much time in Muncie, you’ve seen photos of cars and trucks challenging the flood of water at the Madison Street underpass during heavy rains.
Earlier this fall, Muncie Sanitary District held a ribbon-cutting ceremony announcing the completion of the Madison Street Underpass sewer system upgrade. From start to finish, the underpass redevelopment was a collaborative effort from the Muncie Sanitary District, Bowen Engineering, United Consulting, and HWC Engineering.
“Fixing the most chronic flooding problem in Muncie was no small feat,” said Mike Cline.
“All the way to the corner of Batavia and Kilgore and to the east are underground storm waters that feed into that underpass,” added Joe Evans.
“Digging 45-foot deep under the railroad, the team found underground rivers that came from everywhere! 27,000 gallons of water per minute were pumped out of the hole in order to clear the area to begin the upgrade.”
With a 40-foot deep pump station, 750,000-gallon steel storage tank, new underground drainage infrastructure, and 2,100 linear feet of force main pipe, Madison Street’s flooding challenges of years past have been resolved.
Video presentations on these and other fascinating Muncie Sanitary District projects can be found at www.MuncieSanitary.org.
“With 17 years on the Muncie Sanitary District Board of Directors and as the current president, I’m proud and passionate about the work this agency provides to this great community,” stated Bill Smith. “The Muncie Sanitary District ties together with many organizations to better the community, and that’s the big picture. That’s why we’re here.”
Tracy McCormick-Dishman is a local Marketing & Communications Consultant, writing about her visits to area businesses and agencies. Follow her travels on Facebook, Twitter (#HeyDish) and The Muncie Journal.