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The Decatur Economic Development Corp. (EDC) on Tuesday approved a $200,000 incentive grant to bring the national headquarters of H2X to Decatur.
The company, which operates a fleet of specialized trucks that excavate with high-pressure water instead of mechanical digging equipment, will build a 12,000-square-foot shop and office building on Walnut Street in the northeast part of Decatur. It is currently based in Bayfield, Colo.
The EDC grant also includes $80,000 to pave about 445 feet of Stratton Street, which extends into the property. The street must be paved so that the plat can get approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission and city council, according to Public Works Director Earl Smith.
“Platting brings it under the purview of the subdivision ordinance, and that ordinance requires that the street be paved,” he said. The street will extend from Walnut, past Mill to the end of the property – but it can’t go through because it dead-ends into property owned by the Wise County Appraisal District.
With the EDC board’s approval, the budget item will go on the Decatur City Council’s Dec. 10 agenda. Once the budget item is approved, the actual contract will be signed and should get on the council’s January agenda.
EDC Director Jody Adams said he has been working on the project – under the code-name “Project Denver” – for about a year.
“It’s gone well, just slow,” he told his board Tuesday morning. “This allows me to go to them and say this is approved. This is committed.”
Hydro-excavation is a clean, safe and precise excavation according to H2X President Mike Clark, who said he believes the technology represents “the future of safe excavation.”
“We’ve been on site since January, in and out with a small presence, but nothing like we’re about to have,” Clark said Tuesday. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’d say we’ll have between 15 and 40 employees there. Compliance, customer safety programs, DoT – all that’s going to be in this office.”
Clark said his company is ready to move.
“We’re hoping for approval as quickly as possible,” he said. “We plan to break ground soon after that January city council meeting and be in that building by the end of February.”
Clark said hydro-excavation is applicable for highway, utility construction, oilfield and other applications – even digging a swimming pool on a tight lot where conventional equipment won’t fit.
H2X started in 2000 with two hydrovac trucks and has since added two dozen more trucks. Water used in the process doesn’t have to be potable, Clark noted, but it does need to be clean, since sediment would clog the equipment’s high-pressure nozzles. The water and dirt from the excavation is vaccuumed up as a slurry and typically stays on the site.
Clark said his crews actually located all the water lines on the property where they are planning to build.
“We spent about four or five days locating those lines so they would know where the utilities are,” he said. “That’s just our contribution.”
It’s not unusual for a city to not know exactly where some of its older water lines are buried, Clark said.
“If everybody knew where all their lines were, we’d be out of business.”