04/07/11 — Town will get water study funds

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Town will get water study funds

By Steve Herring
Published in News on April 7, 2011 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Town officials remain mum on rumors that the town has attracted the attention of a new industry that is interested in locating here.

However, the timing of a decision to study the town's water system needs and wording in the motion asking for that study, which was approved by the town board Wednesday night, would seem to indicate that might be the case.

The Wayne County Economic Development Alliance also has agreed to pay one-half of the $60,000 study needed in order for the town to draw down on a $2 million grant/loan from the state Drinking Water Revolving Trust Fund.

Most of the water improvements would center around the town's No. 3 well on Northeast Church Road, indicating the area being considered is north of town in the general vicinity of the area from the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. Distribution Center to the industrial park on the Old Mount Olive Highway.

Commissioner Gene Lee made the motion that the town enter into the partnership with the alliance to help fund the engineering study.

In his motion Lee said the study would "... ensure that water needs of existing and future businesses and industries can be met."

Along with county helping to pay for the study, town officials are hopeful the county will help fund the water improvements.

Wednesday's session was the continuation of the board's Monday night meeting that was recessed following a one-hour closed session held to discuss industry/business relocation or expansion. The board took no action following the closed session other than to say some questions needed to be answered.

Brown said improvements would make the area more attractive to a business or industry.

Asked if that meant an industry was interested in that area, Brown replied, "I cannot comment on that."

Brown thanked alliance President Joanna Helms and County Manager Lee Smith, the alliance board members and county commissioners for their efforts on behalf of the project.

"They have agreed to share in that," Brown told town commissioners. "The only request that they made was that if the project moves forward, and we get it fully funded would we reimburse them. I am thinking yeah, because we will have a $2 million project. We are going to get reimbursed, too.

"Everyone has agreed to that and I have given you their responses in writing so we have a written agreement to that effect. They will share equally in the cost of the funding to get this ready to proceed."

The final agreement was hammered out shortly after lunch on Wednesday, he said.

Mayor Ray McDonald Sr. thanked local alliance board members George R. Kornegay Jr. and Grey Morgan for contacting alliance board members so that the agreement could be finalized.

"All of these people have really responded quickly and responded in a matter of urgency because they know how these grants go -- if we don't get this study in we don't get the grant," McDonald said. "We discussed this the other night in executive (closed) session. We did not vote on it when we came out because we did not know where the county stood at that time."

Following last night's meeting, which lasted less than five minutes, Brown said the town had applied for and had been allocated $2 million in December from the state Drinking Water Revolving Trust Fund.

The money would be used to increase filtration capacity at the town's No. 3 well and to replace about three miles of water lines.

"We will replace about 875 water meters and a number of values," he said. "We would replace about 2,000 feet of line and put in six-inch water mains.

"We have plenty of water, but our treatment process is somewhat limited. We cannot produce the volume that we need to so we need to double our filtration capacity, that way we can double what we can produce out there."

The waterline replacement portion of the project is town wide, Brown said.

"The thing is the only place that we could find funding for this was the Drinking Water Revolving Trust Fund and you had to bring in a residential element to be eligible for their funding," he said.

However, increasing the filtration capacity remains the main focus of the project, he said.

At issue is that half of that $2 million is a grant and half is a loan, he said. Brown said the town was "not comfortable" with that and knew it could not borrow a million dollars.

"We have looked to the county for its assistance and they have agreed to help with this (study)," Brown said. "They understand that it is going to help them long term. Any prospects that they might have for the industrial park, it is going to be important to have that water capacity for them -- just for existing businesses such as Mt. Olive Pickle Co. as it continues to grow. They are going to need additional water.

"So (the county) have agreed... the first thing that we have to do, it is going to take about $60,000 to get the preliminary engineering study done so that we can get this project ready to proceed so that we can go to the state and be sure that we have that money committed. The county has agreed to share that cost (of the study) with us."

Brown said the county's assistance was invaluable because the town had not been comfortable taking on the full cost of the study.

"Now it is a partnership and we feel much more comfortable with it," he said. "The next step is we will sign the contract with the engineer and they will get the paperwork to submit to the state by May 31."

The study will be conducted by the engineering company of McGill and Associates of Pinehurst.