Swancreek Township residents will have their say July 29 about a proposed Water District expansion project that has been on the planning table about three years.
The Notice of the Pendency public meeting, to be held by the district 6 p.m. at the township building at 5565 County Road D, will include a suggestion by its Board of Trustees that township residents foot the bill for the project’s future engineering costs through a property tax assessment.
The meeting is a precursor to possible passage of a district resolution approving the water project, and is intended to elicit public opinion before a decision is made. No projections have been given on when the work would begin or reach completion.
The original expansion plan developed three years ago extended the Water District’s line to County Road EF. Since then, a more ambitious version emerged that would carry water further, to a township area known as Peaceful Valley.
Board member Walt Lange said the current plan would involve a method called “looping” that would expand the township’s water from County Road EF to county roads 3, D, and E, and increase water flow. Looping would also eliminate the need for the water line’s dead ends on those roads, which have to be flushed regularly to maintain water quality.
Ultimately, the water line would unite all of the roads and travel down County Road 3. The current main line has been located on County Road 2 the past 10 years.
Preliminary engineering work on the estimated $2.38 million project has been completed by Arcadis US, a Toledo firm. Because the Water District failed to hold a Notice of Pendency meeting prior to contracting the engineering work, it was not able to assess the $60,000 cost through a property tax.
“It cannot be retroactive. We admit we made a mistake,” Lange said.
Instead, the cost will be paid through either the district’s capital improvement fund or general fund.
An estimated cost for the final phase of engineering, which would include a five- to six-month period of surveying the targeted areas and drafting blueprints, has not been determined. But Lange said the cost would be prohibitive through the Water District’s funds.
He said the public meeting will be used, in part, to gauge the willingness of township residents to have the cost assessed to their property taxes. Legally, the meeting must be held if future engineering costs are to be assessed.
However, a majority protest won’t necessarily stop the tax assessment if the project goes forward, Lange said.
The Water District held three public meetings last November to offer general information about the project. In January, a general survey regarding the project was sent to approximately 210 township residents it would affect. Only about one-third responded.
“There’s a lot of people for it, a lot against it,” Lange said.
He said the project proposal has stretched over three years because during that time three new Water District board members were named, and had to be educated about the process. It was also held up by the survey.
After the meeting, “It’s time for the water board to vote, one way or the other,” Lange said. He hopes that will happen at the Water District’s Aug. 13 meeting.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.