Newberry selects firm for wastewater engineering 

City of Newberry sign and City Hall
Photo by Suzette Cook

A Newberry wastewater plant expansion took its next steps this week as the City Commission agreed to award a $2.5-3M engineering contract to a local firm.  

During its regular meeting on Feb. 13, the commission accepted the ranking committee’s recommendations and authorized City Manager Mike New to begin negotiations with the top-ranked firm to enter into an agreement for engineering design services.  

Atkins was the top-ranked firm followed by Mott McDonald, Carollo, CPH, Halff, Hanson, and George F Young.  

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If New cannot work out a satisfactory contract with Atkins, the commission authorized him to negotiate with the second-ranked firm and continue following the process until an acceptable agreement is reached.  

Newberry City Manager Mike New
Photo by Seth Johnson Mike New

“This is a hallmark moment of this process,” Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said in a phone interview. “To overcome challenges and get to where we are ready to send these things out to an engineering firm, so they can get to work designing. This is a pivotal moment, a big deal.” 

The commission adopted the facilities plan in June 2022, which led to the city staff writing a request for a quote (RFQ) for engineering services. That RFQ received just one response from an engineering firm in September. After reviewing the firm’s response, the staff rejected the bid and reissued the RFQ in November 2022. 

The city reissued the RFQ to draw a larger pool of engineering firms and received seven responses in January.  

Once city staff and Atkins have finalized an agreement, the contract will be brought to the commission for approval in March.  

Funding for the project is included in the city’s State Revolving Fund (SRF).  

The expansion has been in the works for a few years. In November 2021, The commission approved the purchase of 93 acres for the expansion. 

The parcel is located adjacent to the west side of the existing wastewater plant and extends to SW 266th Street. 

Back in December 2020, Marlowe solicitedbuy-ins from adjacent municipalities to have the new wastewater facility serve as a regional wastewater system.   

The reasoning behind this idea was that smaller cities in western Alachua County could come together and help ease the project’s cost using a larger tax base. A joint effort could simplify regulatory compliance.  

Marlowe said Archer and High Springs are both in the conversation with Newberry about using the expanded facility.  

“We have an interlocal agreement that will go out to each board in three to four weeks that will be the document that says, ‘Yes, we want to be a part of this, and this is how much capacity we want to buy into,'” Marlowe said.  

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe
Courtesy City of Newberry Jordan Marlowe

He said he anticipates all three cities will join in on the project because the cities stand to benefit from the deal.  

If Archer and High Springs agree to the plan, each city would pump its sewage to Newberry to be treated at that facility. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) agreed to fund the construction of the pipelines that will connect all three cities to the regional wastewater facility.  

“Tallahassee recognizes that the carbon footprint is significant, and if cities can band together regionally, then there is a lot of benefit to the state, environment, and legislators,” Marlowe said.  

The expanded wastewater facility would take up roughly 35-40 acres of the 93-acre Newberry Environmental Park.  

The county will run a recycling and fire training facility within the Newberry Environmental Park. A private company, Life Soils, wants to come in and take some of the waste from the wastewater facility and turn that into environmentally friendly compost.  

Marlowe said the city is holding 15 acres of the Newberry Environmental Park, in reserve while Newberry and Alachua County explore the construction of a meat processing facility.  

“There is a whole lot of exciting things that could be on the Newberry Environmental Park,” he said. “The wastewater, fire, recycling, and Life Soil facilities will be there, and the only thing we are still exploring is the meat processing.”  

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George S.