Sunday, November 14, 2010

Crouch Sewer Project: Can Residents Afford To Turn It Down?

The November 10 public hearing, for discussion on the Idaho Community Development Block Grant, served as a forum for residents to air concerns and get an understanding of the process the City has been going through for its sewer project.

Gary Ashby, Engineer for Forsgren and Associates, told the audience that his company has worked with the City on the sewer situation for over two years and has reviewed a variety of options. The full scope of planning took into consideration pumping effluence to the Southfork Landing treatment plant and three different technologies for the City doing its own, all of which proved to be too costly for the users. Ashby said, “The plan we chose appears the most viable and in June, 2010, we submitted it to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). They approved it. That was one of the first steps for feasibility.”

The project involves two major elements: A collection system, which involves laying sewer lines from houses, and then a pump station would be built. Ashby referred to this as a gravity system and was asked to clarify how it could operate on gravity and also involve a pump.

Ashby explained that the sewer lines will run downhill. Once they get to the pump station, they will have a pressurized pump.

Resident Diane Messick voiced a concern about possible sewer lines running through her property, as she lives on a slant. Ashby answered, “We intend to primarily run the lines on existing roads. It may turn out we need to get an easement or there may be some localized areas that may need a pressurized lift station.”

Council is considering two properties north of downtown that would provide several acres of field for the absorption system. Their primary goal is to protect the river.

The recommended system will cost resident users about $60 a month. It is anticipated that people connecting at the outset would pay no connection fee, as the cost for construction is built into the grant. In one or two years, should you want to connect, there would be the cost of the line to your house. The engineers expect 125 dwelling units to be hooked up, though not necessarily from the beginning. They can handle an initial 80%. The taxation would be on Crouch residents only, not Garden Valley.

The ICDBG grant application for the sewer project is asking for $1.2 million. Jerome Mapp has been working on the grant and was approved as the Environmental Review Officer for the proposed grant.

Mayor Bob Powell spoke assuredly, “We’re not running the bond til after we get the grant. This isn’t just for the downtown area. We’re not forcing you to do it and it’s not that we want it. I can’t afford it...but we’re going to start polluting the river. Can you afford to get a new septic system yourself?”

Mapp informed the audience, “This is a unique application. They don’t look at too many new systems. In regard to the bond issue, which we have put back until May, we can’t give you estimates, but information. DEQ is not guaranteeing any other additional septic units will be allowed here.”

Gary Ashby said negotiations will have to include the land acquisition. “It’s hard to buy the land unless we know we can do it.”

If all goes well, the City will be looking at bidding in January, 2012, with completed construction by December, 2012.

Regular Meeting:

The bats are out, the holes are patched, a new window installed.
After folks are paid, old insulation out and new in. Central heating is in the works—wouldn’t it be nice to actually hear what goes on even when the heat is blowing?

Jerome Mapp said that next summer, you’ll see the water project happening. “That’s the way it happens. After that, the sewer—no money to do both at the same time.”

Council approved to sign the ICDBG grant application and to outline the plan for future public meetings on the sewer.

Larry Hellhake, developer of Mountain Shadows subdivision, and Bob Hammond, president of Mountain Shadows Homeowners Association, showed up to discuss their thoughts on merging water systems with the City of Crouch. Hellhake said it would be a relatively simple thing to do, but would be subject to the benefit of the Mountain Shadows homeowners. More on that in the future.

The downtown snow plow plan agreement will be the same as last year’s.

Ye Olde Garden Valley Library building started its life back in the 1930s as a Civilian Conservation Corps location, to help put locals to work. Its future is being contemplated by residents and the City of Crouch. Ione Messick stated that because of its past with CCC, the Veterans and as Syringa Club’s library, it is a part of Idaho and Garden Valley history and should be preserved.

There is no intention of tearing it down, although it was suggested that the front added-on two-storied part could be done away with, to provide a small parking lot. There were suggestions to use it as Council chambers and for the Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps it could get accepted on the Historic Register. Any way you look at it, the old girl is not through yet.

County Commissioner Jamie Anderson asked if the City was interested in a letter of support from the County, for the block grant. The Mayor said, “Anything that will help us!”

Some residents voiced concern over the piles of dirt being dumped close to the flood plain and wetland area by the new Merc construction workers. It will be looked into.

The next Crouch City Council meeting will be at 6:00 p.m., on December 8, 2010, at Crouch Community Hall.

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