2008-03-29 / News

Close, but no water deal yet

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE- Buckeye Lake Village is much closer to having a public water system, but the cigar's not lit quite yet.

Buckeye Lake Village Council members approved several ordinances and resolutions Monday night, which prepare the village to receive grants and loans toward paying for the design of a public water distribution system. The village plans to buy bulk water from the Village of Millersport. However, village attorney Richard "Butch" Bindley is out of town until next week and there are still some last minute contract details to resolve with Millersport's attorney Thomas Corbin.

While Buckeye Lake Mayor Frank Foster hoped to have a contract with Millersport ready for council consideration Monday night, council members must wait a little longer. Foster suggested a special council meeting to approve the proposed contract with Millersport since the Buckeye Lake council won't meet again until April 14, but no date has been set yet.

Monday night, council unanimously passed legislation that basically provides loan security to whichever organization - most likely Ohio EPA - provides funding for the design of Buckeye Lake's public water distribution system.

"What was passed (Monday) night was a rate schedule to be instituted only if, for any reason, we do not go to construction of the water system within the next three years," said Foster. The design loan is required to be paid back within fiveyears after the design is complete. If the village begins construction of the distribution system within the next three years--the goal, he said, is much sooner--then the design loan will be rolled into the construction loan, which will be paid back with water rates. In which case, said Foster, the rate schedule legislation passed Monday night will not be needed because the construction loan will absorb the design loan.

Kevin Wood, vice president of M•E Companies-the engineering firm designing the distribution system-said his firmwill design the distribution system, a water tower, and a lift station and he plans to submit the designs to the Ohio EPA by May 31. The goal, he said, is to have an Ohio EPA permit to install, or PTI, which legally allows the village to begin the process of physically installing the distribution system, by summer.

Wood said should the village allow residents to connect to the public water system without charging a tap fee or an assessment, he estimated users would pay about $52 to $61 per month for water. But, the more people who connect to the system, the lower the monthly bills will be. Often, when villages install public water, they will forego the tap fee for the residents and businesses that sign on immediately as an incentive to place as many people on the public water system as possible.

Rural Community Assistance Program State Field Agent Coordinator John Rauch said the village will save significantmoney by tying into Millersport's water system, as opposed to building a Buckeye Lake village operated water treatment plant. "I see a lot of familiar faces," he said to council members, adding that only one other Ohio village council has sent more than half of its members to public water informational training sessions, as Buckeye Lake has.

In other council news:

• It's important to clarify that a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant, which the village might receive, would go toward financing the entire distribution system, not toward helping to pay tap fees, specifically,as was stated in an earlier story. However, the village may receive $100,000 of grant money to help low income residents pay for attaching to the water distribution system. If the village receives the $500,000 CDBG, it would slightly lower the monthly bills for everyone connected to the system.

• Council member Hilde Hildebrandt said Foster asked that Buckeye Lake police officers receive a 15 percent pay cut following the failure of a 2.5 mills levy. Three shifts per week currently have no police coverage, she said. Hildebrandt proposed that the village place another 2.5 mills police levy on the November ballot. If that levy fails, she said, three more shifts will not be covered. She said some village officials believe that no police levy will pass until public water is approved. The village will hold monthly public meetings until November to explain to residents why passage of a police levy is necessary. The first meeting is currently scheduled for April 1, 6 p.m. at the Village Offices.

Police Captain James Hanzey responded to criticism that the village police make few drug related arrests when many residents believe the village has a serious drug problem. He said it's difficultto make arrests from police cruisers because people see them coming, and people are familiar with the officers' personal vehicles. Any drug busts the Licking County Drug Task Force make are rarely publicized, because the task force officerswould "have their covers blown," said Hanzey.

Council member Jeryne Pe- terson said any village without adequate fireand police protection is "destined for problems." She added, "Do we really not want to have police protection?" Incidents of crime would surely rise if police protection were reduced, said Peterson.

• Council member Drew Bourne said some of the streets in the Cranberry Bay area are in disrepair. He said he understands that many village streets will be torn up when water lines are installed, but Cranberry Bay streets need help before then. "We're going to have to pave some," said Bourne.

• Magazine and paper recycling bins are available in front of the Village Offices,the proceeds from which go to the Buckeye Lake Parks and Recreation Committee. Buckeye Lake spring cleanup days are April 9 to 12 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for village residents only. There will be dumpsters behind the Village Hall. Disposal of regular car tires will cost $2 each and semi truck tires will be $6 each.

• Director of Development Valerie Hans said the Newark civil engineering firmJobes and Henderson is ready to begin designing the second phase of a paved walking path through the village. Currently, the path, which begins at the Buckeye Lake Estates on Ohio 79, ends at Ohio 360. Hans is seeking funding sources.

• A resident mentioned that the benefit breakfast in Millersport for the Buckeye Lake Youth Association raised about $1,500 toward rebuilding the association's waffle house stand on the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival grounds. Vandals destroyed the stand. The resident said the association is still accepting donations, which may be sent to Buckeye Lake Youth Association, 140 3rd Ave, Hebron, OH 43025-9610, phone - (740) 928-8337.

Council members collectively donated $100 of their own money to the youth association.

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