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Sewer extension to be pursued in block grant application

Following the review of one successful water project, county leaders are now turning their attention to the next need.
Washington County was awarded $500,000 in a federal Community Development Block Grant to extend water service to the Bulldog Miller Road area a few years ago. When the project was completed in 2011 for less than the estimated amount, the county asked to use the remaining funds for the extension of water service to the Lady Lane area.
A closeout meeting for the project was held Oct. 23 in the county office building
“From my perspective, the project went well,” said Ken Rea, First Tennessee Development District deputy director of economic and community development, noting the number of households served increased from the original 32 to a total of 44 by including Lady Lane Ridge Road.
Mayor Dan Eldridge agreed with Rea. “The key is Washington County stepped out and did something new by supplementing the grant with General Fund money to expand the project,” he said.
However, Eldridge would recommend a change in management for the next undertaking. “Having been involved from start to finish, the lesson learned was that we need to have someone coordinating the project,” he said.
Eldridge said he, Water Task Force Chair Joe Grandy and FTDD shared the responsibility of ensuring Washington County was doing its part. “If there was any impact, we lost time,” he said. “The project took longer than it should have.”
After the closeout paperwork was completed, the discussion turned to ideas for the next CDBG application. Director of Schools Ron Dykes proposed applying for a block grant to extend the sewer line from Jonesborough and build a new sewer treatment plant at David Crockett High School.
“I can’t think of a more pressing need,” Eldridge said.
The high school’s sewage plant was constructed in the 1970s when the school was built, and has long been suggested as a potential project for the next block grant, which can only be administered one at a time.
Rea said $525,000 is the maximum allowed for the application. A 20 percent match is required, which could be met if the Town of Jonesborough agrees to do the labor. If not, funding may be requested from the county.
The main objective of the funds, which will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are to benefit residents of low-to-moderate income.
GRW Engineers of Nashville, which specializes in wastewater facilities, estimated the cost at $575,000, with several stream crossings and the replacement of asphalt driveways to be required as part of the project.
“When we’ve done (similar projects) before, the state has asked us to demolish the old facility,” Rea added.
Another consideration, he said, is the amount of time that can be spent working with a large number of property owners to acquire right-of-way access.
Eldridge said two benefits to the project are the state’s investment of a percentage of the cost and a long-standing relationship with the town. “I don’t see the commission pushing back,” he said.
GRW hopes to have a preliminary design report and a cost description completed before the end of the year, and the group will get back together then.
The estimated timeline discussed last week includes property surveys beginning in November; a resolution with a cost estimate taken before the county commission at the January 2015 meeting; an application deadline of Feb. 27, 2015; announcement of the grant recipients in summer 2015; and, if awarded funds, beginning work in 2016.
Grant guidelines require the project to be completed within three years.