Route change increases cost of sewer work

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2001

Sewer line route modifications for a Field Lark Lane projectwill add $32,515 to the total cost, and the city is preparing forcourt action against some landowners who will not grant neededaccess for project work to the done, city officials decided Tuesdaynight.

Engineer Jeff Green said route modifications are the result ofnot being able to get easements from property owners whose landwould have been crossed under original route plans. Routemodifications will raise the total project cost from $305,978 to$338,494, which is still below original project estimates.

“We are well within our limits of what was estimated,” Greensaid.

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Despite the increase, City Attorney Joe Fernald said it wouldhave cost more to pursue eminent domain proceedings againstlandowners who would have been affected by the original route.

Green said work on the new route, which will run a sewer linealong Highway 51 to Industrial Park Road and Union Street, will beslower and involve going through different soil types. He said itwould be more aggravating to follow the new route, but theadditional cost charged by the contractor is fair and the projectis about $120,000 below original estimates.

“We’re in good shape,” Green said.

The sewer system improvement project also involves work east ofHighway 51. In related action, aldermen approved getting appraisalson property needed for that work and noted that three propertyowners had agreed to sign needed easements.

The board also authorized Fernald to prepare to file eminentdomain proceedings against other property owners’ whose land isneeded.

“Before we file, we’ll bring it back to the board,” Fernaldsaid.

In pursuing the project, city officials have held severalmeetings with landowners in an effort to get them to sign easementdocuments. At one meeting, landowners were skeptical because ofbroken promises from 30 years ago when the city did another sewerproject.

“We’ve got some people up there who just won’t move,” said MayorBill Godbold.

The mayor indicated that some landowners were agreeable, but hadnot followed through with signing needed documents.

“They’ll talk the talk, but they won’t walk,” Godbold said.

For the project, the city has received a $200,000 state capitalimprovement loan, which must be spent by the end of the year, and acommunity development block grant.

Green said it would take roughly four weeks to get work west ofHighway 51 done, which would allow the city to meet the loanspending deadline. When work east of Highway 51 can be finishedwill depend on when work can get started, he said.


Restrooms for Amtrak customers again got city fathers’ attentionduring Tuesday’s meeting, with one aldermen suggesting stoppingtrain service through town or a boycott if the facilities are notprovided.

“They ought to at least provide something for the people,” saidWard 3 Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson.

The issue has been raised several times before. Other cityofficials said Amtrak considers restrooms a local matter.

“Amtrak won’t provide nothing,” Godbold said.

During the discussion, Wilson raised the possibility of stoppingtrain service.

“If people can’t use restrooms, they ought to boycott,” Wilsonsaid.

Citing deed provisions when land for the railroad was given,Fernald said Amtrak must stop in the city. While acknowledgingrestrooms concerns, he also said the current waiting area shelteris extremely uncomfortable in the summer and winter.

“It’s a benefit to the city for them to stop here, but it is aproblem,” Fernald said.

With the city assuming control of the depot with the recreationdepartment moving out, one suggestion was to allow its restrooms beused for train passengers. Godbold expressed concerns aboutpotential vandalism.

Ward 2 Alderman Terry Bates suggested allowing some kind ofbusiness to locate in the depot. The depot has also been consideredas the site for a city museum.

“Whoever gets in there can maintain it,” Godbold said. “That’sthe main thing, having somebody there.”


In a recurring city matter, a question about mattress and otherlarge item pick up prompted another call from Bates for the city topick up the items without charging residents for the service. Hecited city appearance concerns in making his case.

“When they lay out there for a month, it makes the whole citylook bad,” Bates said.

James Arnold, city sanitation department superintendent, saidthe city charges $5 for mattress and other large item pick up. Heacknowledged some problems in collecting the fee.

Bates said the city should go ahead and pick up the items andthen review garbage fees citywide if there is a problem.

Other officials voiced a number of concerns. Expectations werethat items from county residents would be left on city streets ifthe city picked them up at no charge.

“They’re going to come in from out of town if they know you’regoing to take care of them,” Godbold said.

Ward 6 Alderman John E. “Buddy” Allen said it would not be fairto charge all residents because of the problems of a few. Whilealso calling for better public education on the matter,Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner said residents should makearrangements for large item disposal before putting them out forpick up.

In other business Tuesday, aldermen went into executive sessionto discuss pending litigation over a justice court lawsuit in whichthe city has been named as a third party defendant.

The lawsuit involves ownership of a piece of property that wassold at the land sale because clean up fees were owed. Followingthe executive session, city officials voted to aggressively defendthe lawsuit.