SC reviews water maser plan, changes FEMA contractor

“Stones are hollowed out by the constant dropping of water.” Ovid – so Shady Cove hopes to grind away at their aquatic issues – one drop at a time. Once again the theme of the Jan. 6th city council study session and meeting was good old H20; starting off the new year with old issues. The highlight of the afternoon session was a review of the Water System Master Plan; this proved such a topic of interest the meeting was moved from City Hall to the Community Center to allow for the crowd. However, the crowd dwindled, slipping out in surreptitious twos and threes as the presentation – given by Bill Pavlich of HGE – ran over 3 hours. Even the most steadfast departed as they learned what they had come to hear. For those of you who missed some or all of the presentation; here are the facts in a nutshell:

First and foremost the mayor reminded that the presentation was just the first proverbial drop of water in the hollowing of “actually getting water to Shady Cove” stone. Even with plan in hand the Mayor stressed it will take full community support to begin action.

The plan itself (available on the city’s website) covers two options: 1. The city builds a system from scratch 2. The city buys Shady Cove Water Works and grows from there. Both options border on the 11 million dollar mark. Though differing in their “jumping off points” both options then merge in their courses of action. Both would take place in two phases, both would take 20 years to reach full fruition. Options for funding include grant monies and loans. Ideally loans could be obtained at a low interest rate (lots of things factor into getting these loans) and wouldn’t need to be repaid until Phase 1 is complete and fees for water usage are collected and could be used to re-pay the loan. In the end Pavlich recommended the city start from scratch as that is the slightly less expensive option (by 1 million) and there are several intrinsic problems and unknowns that would come with the purchase of SCWW. 

Whichever direction (if either) the city decides to go it will be a “one drop at a time” process. First deciding on option 1 or 2, then putting together a citizen/council task force (or similar), then looking to the matter of acquiring funds, etc. The one change to the plan the city is likely to make if/when progress begins is to adjust the prioritization order of which areas receive water first. Per the existing plan priority is set on logic – those areas closest to the main water line would get water in Phase 1. However those areas aren’t the ones experiencing the greatest need; so priorities may be switched around, though that will increase the cost to an unknown degree.

You can’t have a full discussion about water in Shady Cove without also getting into FEMA issues; those were covered in the evening meeting. The city feels it’s time to re-vamp their overall plan. With Becca Croft of PWM leaving the company; PWM has presented the city with a new contract option and will let the city out of their existing contract without penalty. In light of that the city took a second bid from Building Design Services, represented at the meeting by Lois DeBenedetti. PWM offers 30 hours per week, but from a remote location. BDS offers 20 hours per week, but will have their rep (DeBenedetti to begin with) housed in City Hall for easy public access and availability. Additionally BDS can offer planning services so in the future the city might be able to save money by using them for small planning issues and only calling on City Planner Dick Converse for larger scale ones. For the immediate future, however FEMA compliance is the main concern.

Council opted to hire BDS and DeBenedetti will get to work immediately. In addition to the changing of the guard, the city also wants to shift the focus from random inspections and to encouraging more folks to come to voluntary compliance. Admin Danise Brakeman has been in contact with FEMA and they are ok with the necessary slowing down of inspections in general while the program is re-vamped.

In between all the water issues council also managed to squeeze in the appointment of two folks to the budget committee. There were four highly qualified applicants: Joan Reitz (who’s term just expired), Mary Gunderlock, Joe Riker and Pat Keene. The council at large was thrilled with their embarrassment of riches at having so many quality applicants to choose from. In a very close vote Reitz and Gunderlock were approved and appointed.

Lastly came the first reading of the amendment to the nuisance ordinance to add the subsection regarding offensive exterior lighting. All were pleased to see this ordinance finally come to fruition as the “dark sky” journey began in March ’10. It can be taken as proof that enough drops of water do eventually carve out that hollow and stands as a reminder that change is a thing that takes time, commitment and many hands to enact.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent


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