Kirkersville tells district ‘no’
KIRKERSVILLE – It’s doubtful it’ll be quite so easy, but Kirkersville Village Council voted to prohibit the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District from crossing the village border to supply water to the Flying J Travel Center near the I-70 and Ohio 158 interchange.
“Negotiations are off,” said Mayor Terry Ashcraft Monday. “Nothing’s in it for us.” He said the village’s attorney would send Southwest Licking Director Don Rector a letter informing him of council’s decision.
Mike Baker, chief of the Ohio EPA’s Division of Drinking and Ground Waters, told council during the Oct. 7 meeting that the Flying J’s existing water system is “stretched beyond its capacity” and federal stimulus money is available to pay for at least half of a water line from Southwest Licking to the truck stop. Baker said the Ohio EPA has “concerns” with the Flying J’s existing water system and the water line extension wouldn’t cost the village anything.
However, Kirkersville council member Debi Seymour said council members understood that Southwest Licking personnel led Ohio EPA representatives to believe the village agreed to allow the water line into Kirkersville and the project’s federal funding was released. Seymour said the village agreed to talk, but never agreed to let the project move forward. “We’ve stopped talking,” she said. As far as Seymour is concerned, the subject is closed, but she’s waiting to see what the Southwest Licking district does next, if anything.
Ashcraft said Wednesday that council members agreed unanimously not to allow the water district into the village. “Our attorney will handle it,” he said.
Rector said he understood after speaking with Seymour and council member Sharon Temple that Southwest Licking pledged to continue to work with the village on a water contract that would allow the village to be a water supplier in the future if council ever chose to do so, even though the district would supply water to the Flying J only. He believed this agreement allowed Southwest Licking to move forward with the project, which would save the village money if it ever created its own water system because some of the infrastructure would already be in place.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Rector, but, “we’re not going to give up.” He firmly believes supplying water to the Flying J is a health issue and “the right thing to do.” He said the project would remedy Flying J’s problem using very little local funding. Rector added there is no safe drinking water at the I-70 and Ohio 158 interchange and the village needs to be part of the solution. “We’re still open to discussing it,” he said.