Dam group wants historic turbine in Estes Park

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – Representatives from the Keokuk-Hamilton Dam museum are asking the county to allow them to put an original dam powerhouse turbine on display in Estes Park in Keokuk.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, the group said they were looking for support from the board to move forward with the project.
It was the first time all supervisors were present in the board room in more than a year due to the pandemic.
The turbine, being acquired from Ameren, is about 14 wide by 9 feet high and would sit on a concrete foundation.
Dam board member Brian Carroll said the turbine is the first original turbine from the Keokuk-Hamilton Dam and is more than 108 years old.
Supervisor Chairman Matt Pflug asked if the committee had approached the county’s maintenance department. He said he heard there may be some sinkholes in the area
Carroll said the committee had already planned to do some soil borings to make sure a spread foundation to hold the turbine would work.
“It won’t just be setting on the ground. There will be concrete there,” Carroll said.
“If the soil isn’t good enough to put the spread footing on, we’d drill some piers and then the foundation would sit on those piers.”
Carroll said there would be no cost to the county. Ameren would provide relocation of the turbine to the park and the dam museum would absorb the other costs, which would include some decorative fencing around the turbine to prevent people from climbing on the artifact.
The park is located at 5th and Main.
Supervisor Garry Seyb Jr. asked if there were any concerns with traffic visibility with the new turbine.
“I guess I’d like to go down to the site and see what that looks like,” Seyb said.
“I’m curious to the height and wonder what that will do to traffic. It will be close to the intersection and I’m just trying to visualize that.”
Pflug said he would like to see a conceptual drawing of the addition to the park. Carroll said that was next on the committee’s list of things to do on the project.
Carroll said the turbine will actually sit on its side so visitors can get a profile view of the turbine, so it won’t be 14 feet high, but nine feet high when on display.
Committee member Kirk Brandenberger said the committee was looking for a nod of approval from supervisors.
Pflug said he didn’t have a problem with project conceptually.
“I don’t have a problem with it, but I can’t speak for the full board. I think they want to see, and again we talked about a drawing, but if we can get something like that. I just don’t know we can give you an exact answer,” he said.
Brandenberger said originally plans were to put the turbine on the riverfront, but he said the group changed it to the park to make it more visible.
In other action, supervisors:
• approved a motion to sell general obligation bonds to Pilot Grove Savings Bank to consolidate previous debt with current, maintenance projects and communication upgrades for a total of $6.2 million at 1.15% interest.
• approved the hiring of an assistant for the County Engineer and an Engineer Technician Supervisor.
• approved an overlay project on W55 from Hwy. 16 to Henry County Line.

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