VIDEO: Fort Payne Council approves preliminary work on Terrapin Hill sewer
November 7, 2017
Southern Torch (3918 articles)

VIDEO: Fort Payne Council approves preliminary work on Terrapin Hill sewer

PHOTO: James Payton of Ladd Environmental addresses the council regarding a project to extend sewer to the Terrapin Hills area. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — (Video of the Meeting at the Bottom) At today’s meeting of the Fort Payne City Council, a representative from Ladd Environmental briefed the council on plans to extend sewer to the Terrapin Hills subdivision and surrounding areas.

The council began the meeting by approving the minutes from the previous and by prayer led by Council President Brian Baine. Fort Payne Mayor Larry Chesser added to the prayer by asking everyone to remember City Clerk Andy Parker who was absent due to a recent surgery.

After addressing other items (listed below) the council heard from James Payton, a consultant from Ladd Environmental regarding a plan to resolve the crisis concerning the Terrapin Hills sewer system, which the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is currently trying to shutdown. The potential project will affect “200 households” in the area.

The plan would lay a gravity sewer line from the Dead Man’s curve pump station and would “generally follow Big Will’s Creek.” It would eliminate the pump stations at 49th Street and also the pump stations at the Terrapin Hills sewer lagoon if the city takes in that sewer in to the city system; essentially eliminating the Terrapin Hills system.

Mayor Chesser asked if this project included Highway 11, down to Portobello. Payton said that the current plan did not include it, but it can be added on at a later time.

The total costs for the project as-is (including construction, engineering, and materials) will run approximately $6.8 million.

City Attorney Rocky Watson said that what the city needed, “right away, is something to help us deal with this lawsuit that had been filled by ADEM where they are seeking to get an injunction against the operation of Terrapin Hills.”

“If you got to the point where the city council said, ‘go,’ what would be the timeline to have from Dead Man’s Curve to the pump station at 49th Street, a generous timeline, to be in service?”

“You’re talking about a construction period of six to eight months. The layout and fill work would probably be a couple of months. You’re probably talking about, realistically, 12 to 15 months,” answered Payton.

Councilman Wade Hill explained what needs to be done in the meantime: “The only thing we’ve got to look at right now in the short-term, if we are going to agree to do this project, and it’s going to take 12 to 15 months, we need to be able to do something to get with ADEM and explain to them what our timeline is. We would possibly take over the operation of that lagoon in the short-term. We would need something from ADEM, and get Rocky working on it, to give us protection that they will let us do that.”

The project that the city is currently reviewing was designed in 2002, and much of the engineering is already done. Other areas in the city lacking sewer will soon be engineered and added. Once all are complete, sewer service will be added from, “67th street down to the sale barn,” said Hill.

The ballpark estimate of the total sewer project (including all parts of town that do not have sewer), according to Hill is $18 million, however, if the project is done properly and in conjunction with other improvement projects, grants can be utilized.

“If we tie it into our green space, our waterway cleanup, and a couple of other things, and can put a bike path on it, he (Tony Renta) estimates we can possible get 50/50 funding on this. We can do this project for nine or ten million dollars (half paid by grants),” explained Hill.

The council then voted to approve the preliminary work on the Terrapin Hills project and the engineering work on the next part of the project; going up to the spur on 67th Street.

Other items addressed in the meeting:

  • The council discussed the schedule for the upcoming holiday season.
  • Authorized one time pay adjustment (Holiday Bonuses) for City Employees based on last year’s recommendations.
  • Accepted the low bid from B H Craig Construction of Florence, Alabama opening for upgrades at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in the amount of $665,000.00 on the recommendation of James Payton of Ladd Environmental. Four bids were submitted in total.
  • Cancelled the next regularly scheduled meeting due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
  • Approved two new stop signs to be installed; one on Meadowbrook Road and the other at the intersection of Cardinal Lane at Banks Drive.
  • Authorized the road department to install a speed table on Banks Drive when it’s possible for the paving crew to get the work done.
  • Police Chief Randy Bynum asked the council to approve an event permit for the “DeKalb County Heart Walk” at the pavilion to the VFW on Saturday, November 18th from 8 am to 10 am. The permit was approved.

Mayor’s Report: Mayor Chesser discussed the city mowing private property when events take place and said properties are grown up. Recently, the city had charged a property owner $500 for twice mowing his yard after being warned that it must be mowed.

Jimmy Gilbreath, Zoning and Inspections Coordinator for the city, also expressed his concern with lots that are owned by the state due to tax delinquency, and must also be maintained:

“Those properties need to be maintained as well. Sometimes they are between two existing homes, and it makes the whole neighborhood look bad. I think we need to file a lien in some amount. We need to do something with a lot of lots in town. I think it will come down to the city mowing it and us adding it as a lien to the property or something,” explained Gilbreath.

“It really makes our city look bad when you go down Alabama, Forest, or Grand and you see these lots grown up as high as your head,” he added.

Public Works Director Tim Williams also explained that the steep fine for mowing yards was due to it being necessary to charge more than a typical landscaping crew, or property owners would just have the city mow their lots.

Watch the Full Video: 

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