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Water plant decision moves ahead

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A decision on how to deal with the ailing Village water plant needs to take place soon, Village Council members were told at their June 16 meeting.

“Joe believes the project can’t wait,” Council President Karen Wintrow said to Council, referring to Village Water and Wastewater Plant Superintendent Joe Bates. In recent weeks, one of three filters in the water plant failed, so that villagers were asked to conserve water until the filter was fixed.

Council has been considering how best to provide villagers water for the past several years, because the current plant is more than 50 years old and continually in need of repair. While originally Council was considering three options to address the situation — purchasing water from Springfield, constructing a new plant and upgrading the current plant — at a recent Council meeting, Council members agreed they no longer have interest in purchasing from Springfield. And at the June 16 meeting, most Council members signalled their readiness to move ahead with constructing a new plant, which is the recommendation of Interim Manager Kent Bristol and Water Superintendent Bates.

In a recent meeting, Bristol explained that his opinion on water plant options changed when he met with several of the village’s main water users, including YSI/Xylem, Antioch College, Antioch Midwest and the Yellow Springs Brewery, all of whom said they go to considerable cost to soften local water, which is unusually hard. The meeting convinced Bristol of the need for a new plant that includes water softening capacity. An upgrade of the current plant would not be able to offer softened water.

Constructing a new plant is one of the most expensive options that Council has been considering over the past several years. In 2012 consulting engineer John Eastman estimated the cost at about $5 million.

According to Council President Karen Wintrow, Council will speed up its water plant discussion due to looming plant issues. A presentation on water softening options will take place at the July 21 meeting, a discussion on whether to upgrade the existing plant or build a new one will take place in August, and information on water softening options will be presented in September.

The water softening issue is complicated, because a small plant has fewer options than do larger ones. While Village staff initially thought that ion-softening could be the only option due to the plant’s small size, that choice will probably be prohibited by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, or OEPA, due to environmental concerns, Bristol said. Lime softening, once thought to be available only for larger plants, may be a option, according to Eastman, who said he will provide an EPA list of small communities that use lime softening.

Due to the need to move quickly, the Village may opt for a design/build plant rather than a conventional design approach, according to Wintrow.

“A design/build is much quicker and I believe it’s the best approach,” she said.

Council requested that Bristol bring to its July 7 meeting a contract for a design/build plant.

In other Village Council June 16 business:
• Council members requested that Village Streets Crew Head Jason Hamby bring to an upcoming meeting a more precise cost estimate for constructing a new building at the Village Sutton Farm. The main purpose of the building is to keep Village machinery out of the weather; currently, about nine pieces of machinery sit out in the open, Hamby said.

He presented Council with a proposal for a custom storage building with 12 vehicle bays that would measure 42 feet wide, 160 feet long and 16 feet high. The estimated cost would be about $305,000. The 2014 Village budget includes money to cover a new building.
Council has discussed for some time the need for new facilities on the Sutton Farm, where Village equipment is currently stored outdoors, and this year Council made the project a priority.

• Council members unanimously approved $5,000 in funding for a mosquito mitigation and eradication project in concert with the Greene Environmental Coalition. In its second year, the project, headed by Antioch College Professor Savitha Krishna, focuses on educating the public on eliminating mosquito habitats along with using larvicide to keep mosquitoes from breeding. The 2013 project, which also uses Antioch College students, was deemed a preferable alternative to spraying local areas with pesticides, according to Vickie Hennessy of the GEC.

• Council unanimously passed a resolution that authorizes Bristol to enter into a contract with Arbor Care for tree trimming in the south end of the village, in order to clear trees around Village utility lines. The project has been ongoing for several years.

However, according to Council member Lori Askeland, several villagers have complained about the company and its tree-trimming practices as overly aggressive. Bristol will speak with the tree-trimmers, and villagers with complaints are urged to contact the Village.

• Rick Donahoe expressed his dismay that at last week’s Planning Commission meeting, Antioch University Midwest received approval to park a food truck in its parking lot on Saturdays. Donahoe’s concern is that even a food truck is retail, and the Village Comprehensive plan indicates that all retail in the Village should be in already established business districts.

“This is how it happens,” Donahoe said, referring to the encroachment of retail and sprawl on the western edge of town.
However, food trucks are allowed as a conditional use in the AUM educational zoning, according to Wintrow.

• In his manager’s report, Bristol said that the Village’s contract with DP&L expires at the end of the year, and the company has proposed quadrupling the cost of power transmission, which would raise electric rates by 20 percent. The Village is working with AMP to get a better deal, Bristol said, stating that the Village may end up seeking resolution with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rather than pay the higher costs.

• Council and villagers at the meeting, at the suggestion of Council member Gerry Simms, gave Bristol a standing ovation for his service to the community since returning to the Village in September as interim manager. New Village Manager Patti Bates will be present at the July 7 meeting, which is her first day at work.

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