WJ to begin ‘largest public works project in history’

By Kevin Dye Contributing writer

June 3, 2014

West Jefferson Village Council approved two resolutions Monday night to begin the process to make improvements to the wastewater treatment plant — an undertaking one council member called the largest public works project in the history of the village.

One resolution authorizes Public Service Director Dave Metzger to enter into an agreement with URS Corporation to provide design and bidding services for the water treatment plant and wellfield expansion at a cost not to exceed $218,417.

“We are moving forward with the project to help with our growth needs,” Metzger said.

The resolutions passed were just for the planning of the work, he added. Additional contracts will be needed for the work itself, and then council will be able to move forward to design and final cost.

“If we are going to do a project, we are going to do it right,” Metzger said.

The village is planning an easement of 0.89 acres and a land acquisition of 3.85 acres adjacent to the wastewater treatment plant.

The second resolution is two-fold. It allows Mayor Darlene Steele to contract with Ohio Real Estate Consultants for appraisal services on four easements to be purchased next to the wastewater treatment plant and owned by Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The contract is in the amount of $7,500.

That land will accommodate the Water Treatment Improvement Plant Improvements project.

The second part of the resolution allows the mayor to enter into an agreement with ASC Group, at a cost of $4,257, to perform an archaeological study at the proposed site to meet current EPA regulations.

Council president Ron Garver said he wanted residents to know what the actual combined costs are for the improvements to ensure clean water to the village.

“I think the people ought to know we are looking at phase two of the sewer costing $7 million dollars, the water treatment costing $3 million dollars and the possible expansion of the sewer plant costing $7 million dollars,” Garver said. “There is $17 million dollars that we can be putting out for the entire project. That’s a lot for a small village, but we have to deal with EPA standards.”

Council vice president Steven Johnston said that the project is historic in nature to West Jefferson.

“What we are faced with is the largest public works project in the history of this village,” Johnston said. “First we have to take the band-aids off the plant that have been used over the years. The state requires these fees (archaeological study) before we can even apply for grants and low interest loans.”

Metzger told council some of the low interest loans have recently been approved.

“We are on track to secure $4.5 million dollars at 2.23 percent financing,” Metzger said. “That’s far better than we could get with other programs.”

Steele said she is concerned about the level of debt the village is going to be forced to take on, but the situation needs to be addressed now while it is financially advantageous to do so.

“I hate to saddle future councils with this debt, but we have to make improvements for EPA standards and we have to look at the future growth of the village both commercially and residentially,” Steele said. “So, we need to take advantage of these low interest rates while we can.

“Years down the road, councils will look at this debt during budget time, but I think they will appreciate the work that was done, that should last for years at historically low interest rates,” she said.

Ongoing commercial growth in the village is allowing council to move forward with the project, Steele added.