2009-01-31 / News

Water sign-up deadline extended

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE - Buckeye Lake residents have another month to sign-up for public water and avoid paying what could be a $5,000 tap fee.

Village council members agreed Monday afternoon - council met at 4:30 p.m. before a 6 p.m. informational meeting about a pending public water system - to extend the deadline from Jan. 29 to Feb. 27 to allow more people to sign onto the system. So far, more than 850 users have signed up. Council Clerk Tim Matheny estimated that total could rise to nearly 1,000 by Feb. 27.

As the original Jan. 29 deadline approached, Matheny said a flood of people began signing up for public water at the last minute - the village is preparing to build a distribution system to service the village, whose residents and businesses currently access water from wells. The Village of Millersport will supply bulk water to Buckeye Lake Village.

The village dropped the tap fee as an incentive to get as many property owners to sign up for public water service before the distribution system is built, and reduce users' monthly water bills. Also, temporarily dropping the tap fee allows the village to accept $100,000 in grant money to help qualified users connect from their homes to the distribution system. Currently, it's estimated users will pay about $42 per month for 1,500 gallons of water, and $5.25 per 1,000 gallons beyond 1,500 gallons per month.

Chris Howard, from M•E Companies real estate department - M•E Companies is the Westerville based engineering firm designing the village's distribution system - reported that about 300 temporary easements on private properties must be obtained. They are basically construction easements that allow workers onto private property during construction. The contractor will return the property to its original condition or better when the work is complete. Howard said most of the the system will be installed on public property, but the workers must stand or drive vehicles onto private property to complete installation. Howard said the disruption would generally last only a day or a few hours per property, but legally the contractor must have the easements to complete the work. Howard said the contractor will also need about 20 permanent easements, but those property owners have already been contacted.

Howard hopes the 300 property owners will donate the temporary easements. Mayor Frank Foster said securing the easements is very important, even if it sounds minor. "This could have a very negative impact if we don't get started on it as soon as possible," he said.

Howard said M•E Companies could appropriate easements if absolutely necessary, but he hopes residents will be reasonable and cooperative. He plans to meet with the 300 property owners - probably speaking with about 50 at a time - to explain the easements and why they are important.

Foster said the nation's struggling economy might save the village some money on the installation project. There's not a lot of work out there, he explained, and competition for the Buckeye Lake project should be fierce. The challenge is to ensure the contractor is up to the job, he said. M•E Companies engineers will help the village evaluate the bidders.

The bid package was advertised January 28, with bids expected to be read publicly at 4 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the village offices. A contractor should be selected by the end of March and work should begin on the distribution system by May or June, to be completed in a year.

In other council news, Director of Development Valerie Hans said a group from Pataskala has interest in sponsoring community flag football and soccer teams in Buckeye Lake. Council members agreed to allow the group to use Ryan Park if the they decide to come to Buckeye Lake.

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