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Key decisions still need to be made for water system

BUCKEYE LAKE – A lot’s been done, but there’s a lot to do. Kevin Wood, vice president of M•E Companies – a Westerville based engineering firm designing the Village of Buckeye Lake’s public water distribution systemupdated council on the progress of the water system Monday night. Wood said many of the necessary steps are accomplished, but the village must act quickly on other steps to meet construction and funding deadlines.

Wood said so far the village accomplished the following:

The village has all Ohio EPA Permits to Install (PTIs). A PTI is a detailed plan approval, which allows the village to begin competitive bidding and construction.

The Capability Assurance Plan is complete. It’s an important planning document outlining system costs and a requirement for funding assistance.

On the critical funding issue, Wood said an application for a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant has been submitted. Ohio EPA assistance has been approved. He said M•E Companies is completing an Ohio Public Works Commission grant application for an additional $300,000 to $400,000.

Wood said soil borings and structural plans are complete. Electrical plans should be completed by the end of August, and specifications and contract agreements may be completed by the end of September.

Council members weren’t ready to set a date for a public meeting for residents to tell engineers where water lines should connect to their home or business. This is important for the residents to tell the engineers, said Wood, because the residents pay for the water line from their home or business to the line passing their property. The shorter the distance, the less it will cost.

"People who live in those houses know what’s underground" on their own property, said Mayor Frank Foster.

Council member Shelly Small commented the village still doesn’t know what to do about supplying water to privately owned roads. Originally, council members wanted to have a public meeting near the end of August, but decided to delay the meeting because there are too many issues to cover.

"In order to stay on schedule, we have to move quickly," said Foster.

Wood said the village still must distribute and collect water user agreements and create water rate legislation.

In other council news:

• Resident Bonnie Mansfield asked council members to consider passing an ordinance to regulate cats. She said the village is a dumping ground for strays, particularly since many people know she cares for them; Mansfield operates the BARK (Bonnie’s Animal Rescue and Kennels) animal shelter. She said she is paying for the spaying and neutering of cats from her own pocket and it needs to stop. Spaying and neutering renders cats unable to have or father kittens.

Mansfield’s proposal, which is based on an ordinance from Mansfield, Connecticut, coincidentally, requires cat owners to spay or neuter cats six months old or older, unless the owner has a permit not to do so. Impounded cats would also be spayed or neutered.

Mansfield said someone was claiming to round up stray cats to take to the humane society, but was instead possibly torturing them before killing them. This person has charges pending. "Please, please consider this," Mansfield said to council.

"The cat problem is bad and it always will be," said council member Donna Thompson, who agreed that nonresidents are dumping cats in the village. Council members agreed to consider the ordinance.

• Zoning Inspector Rod Riley thanked the village for placing the village’s cleanup costs on the taxes of two properties; one was charged $212 and the other $243. Village employees mowed the properties’ lawns and cleared debris from the yards after formal orders to do so were ignored. Council clerk Tim Matheny said village workers spent at least four hours on each property.

"There are a lot of people getting a heads up," said Riley, who hoped these incidents would encourage others to maintain their properties.

• Council member Hilde Hildebrandt said there were only 30 hours of no police coverage in July, as opposed to 114 hours in June. When village police are not on duty, the Licking County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Union Township Police are available to respond to calls.

Foster said Police Chief Ron Small was injured off-duty and may be recovering from knee surgery for several weeks.

• Former council member Peggy Wells asked Foster if the village plans to install storm sewers when the streets are torn up to install water lines. She believes the storm sewers should be upgraded at the same time to minimize street repair costs. Foster said it’s not a good idea to place a storm sewer in the same trench with a water line, and the water lines will be in trenches just six inches wide. Storm sewers require wider trenches.

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