The last leg to provide sewers around Lake Wawasee by the Turkey Creek Regional Sewer District was approved Monday, Aug. 18. Construction is expected to begin within the next year, with completion up to two years away.
The project is called the South Shore-Waco Drive Area Project affecting approximately 270 customers, 217 of those customers residing lakeside. At the time of the approval 140 property owners had committed to the project.
A crowd of approximately a dozen individuals gathered in the TCRSD’s conference room for a final opportunity to comment on the property. A question and answer meeting was held in late July, lasting over two hours, with minutes from that meeting being sent to those property owners affected by the project.
Yet several individuals stated Monday they had not received all five of the mailings and had additional questions. Some were answered during yesterday’s meeting, while other questions were handled following the meeting by James Flecker of Green, Cates & Grossnickle.
No one spoke against the project Monday evening, but several questioned what the monthly fee would be, if there would be penalties faced by those who did not originally commit and how rates would be applied.
Joe Stiles, Waco Drive; Steve Hullett, Elwood Street; James Thieman, Ideal Beach Drive; and Bill Allen and Terry Moorman on behalf of the Wawasee Yacht Club were among those commenting and seeking additional questions on the project. Rick Lemberg, a current TCRSD user, questioned how rates would affect other users.
Hullett explained his septic system is comprised of a 55-gallon drum for each of his two properties. “I’m sure there are issues of serious leaching (with his system),” he stated and encouraged the district to fix the issue as soon as possible with the installation of a sewer line. “I bet there are others just like me.”
Hullett noted he wants to do his part in cleaning up the mess “I’m creating. I’m in favor of the project, for the benefit of my children and their children. I applaud this group for pursuing this as they have.”
Thieman, also in favor, noted the project is “good for the lake” and he is sure there are a number of failing systems. Noting should his own system fail, it would be a significant cost … I’m for it.”
It was Allen and Morman who noted the club’s board will be meeting Aug. 23 to reach a decision on participation, but questioned how the club would be charged as the usage is possibly less than a normal household. Morman noted the board had never received notice of the comment meeting, nor minutes from that meeting. It was noted the notice was on the front page of The Mail-Journal and posted on StaceyPageOnline.com. Morman noted “not everyone reads The Mail-Journal.”
Stiles, who also noted he had not received all of the mailings, yet was for the project and he inquired about specific rates for residential users. The typical rate for a residential unit is 1 EDU or one equivalent dwelling unit. That rate is being estimated at $65 to $75 a month “until there is a rate change.” The last rate change was 11 years ago.
Brian Houghten, principal office director of Jones & Henry Engineers, Fort Wayne, was present at the meeting and responded to the timeline of the project. He noted preliminary engineering studies started three years ago with a number of alternative directions. Those studies have been modified and revised to the present plans – a force main installed in the right of way and a line installed possibly to the property owners property line. The homeowner will be responsible for installing a grinder pump.
Houghten anticipates nine months to a year to do the design and get permitting before bids could be let and a six month to nine month time frame for construction. He stressed there are two to three projects within the one major project: plant improvements, upgrades to several existing lift stations and the S.W.A.P. area. This would make the project completion 1½ to two years away, and he does not anticipate it being in less time.
Houghten stated there is a plan to make a bulk purchase of grinder pumps, providing a potential cost saving to homeowners who take advantage of the initial offer. Flecker additionally noted state statute, while requiring residents to tap onto a sewer system if available, there are statutes covering exemptions. Those exemptions will be explained in a letter at the time connection is available.