MILFORD — Milford Town Council held its first monthly public meeting of 2018 Monday evening, Jan. 8, in town hall. After members elected Doug Ruch president and Dan Cochran, vice-president, the council addressed the upcoming wastewater plant upgrades and fielded questions concerning the possible extension of sewage service to Camp Mack.
Ryan Brauen and Megan Carr, project managers from Wessler Engineering, the Fort Wayne firm overseeing both the wastewater plant renovation and the Camp Alexander Mack feasibility study, were present to report on the progress of both projects.
According to Brauen, Mason Engineering plans to begin construction on the plant in April, still providing ample time to meet the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s mandated deadline of Oct. 28, 2018.
Brauen then requested more time to study the feasibility of extending Milford’s sewage services to Camp Mack, an issue already raising concerns among residents. The study is due Jan. 20, however “trouble getting quick responses from vendors” prompted the request. Brauen still expects the study to be completed before the council’s next public meeting, Feb. 12.
Milford resident Ken Long had questions for the council concerning the Camp Mack study. He asked if Camp Mack approached the town of Milford or vice versa and if the Camp Mack representatives provided knowledge of what Long called their “untenable position” due to the fact the property has, said Long, “no perkable soil left,” soil suitable for septic system installation. If it did not hook into the town’s system, said Long, it would have to buy land.
Cochran responded he was approached by Camp Mack, and was told there were “issues” with Camp Mack’s septic system and significant repairs had been made. Long responded the repairs had been made eight years ago, at which time Camp Mack was informed it “might get 10 years out of it.”
Long also asked if the council considered the cost of the project before commissioning the Wessler study and later pointed out Camp Mack is a “tax exempt entity” not contributing to the tax base.
Jay Rigdon, town attorney, responded to the first query, “That’s why you do the study.” As for the financial concerns, Ruch assured Long the town would not get involved unless it felt the project was profitable.
As for whether or not residents would be required to tie into the system, Ruch said that decision has not been made.
In response to Long’s question as to whether the sewer would run only to Camp Mack or around all of Waubee Lake if the plan was found “feasible,” Brauen stated Wessler is only studying the Camp Mack extension.
Long expressed some satisfaction with the council’s answers and commented he did not want the situation to “devolve” into one akin to the proposed ethanol plant in 2007 with “people thinking it has not been thought through.”
Cochran expanded on Ruch’s statements to add the town’s utilities have been operating “in the red” and will continue to lose money if nothing changes. The plant, he said, has enough unused capacity to handle the extension.
He went on to add he is proud of the council’s financial management, noting a “flat budget for the last three years,” and although the $8,500 the study costs is taxpayer money, the council made the decision because it could make a “positive impact.”
Ruch reiterated the importance of Milford funding its own study so as to be confident in its findings. “We’re not going to rely on someone else’s study on what to do.”
Ruch also responded to Long’s suggestion the council take Camp Mack’s “untenable position” into consideration when negotiating by saying the town would be “in the driver’s seat.”
Other council meeting items are as follows:
In police reports, Town Marshal Travis Marsh said new deputy Brandon Shipp was “doing well at the academy” and is scheduled to report to duty soon after his Feb. 2 graduation. The department also plans to step up enforcement of ordinances pertaining to junk cars and has already tagged and towed several vehicles without plates or registration.
Water Operator and Street Superintendent Steven Marquart proposed discontinuing the addition of fluoride to drinking water, a practice started around 50 years ago to benefit children’s teeth. Due to the prevalence of fluoride in the modern environment, Marquart said, “The expense to the town is not necessary anymore.”
The council asked Marquart for further research, agreeing with Rigdon he should find a study from an entity such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supporting a stop to the practice.
The council voted to purchase a gas detection meter at a cost of $1,841. The meter is the last piece of equipment necessary to cover town employees confined space safety needs, according to Marquart.