Polk moves ahead with connecting water systemsPublished 4:50pm Thursday, February 14, 2013
Commissioners approve $99,650 design, survey, bids
Polk commissioners are moving forward with connecting the county’s two water systems by running a water line from the Peniel Road intersection off Hwy. 9 in Green Creek to the Hwy. 108/Hwy. 9 intersection in Mill Spring.
Commissioners approved by a 4-1 vote on Feb. 4 to take $99,650 from fund balance to pay engineer Dave Odom to design, survey and obtain bids for the construction.
Odom has estimated the cost of the waterline to be $1,183,743.
Commissioner chair Michael Gage, vice-chair Ted Owens and commissioners Keith Holbert and Tom Pack approved the motion, while commissioner Ray Gasperson voted against. Gasperson said while he has always been in favor of running the line he would prefer the costs be spread over three fiscal years.
Gasperson said he is currently not aware of any pressing need to construct the line and would be in favor of allocating $100,000 this fiscal year, but spread construction costs over the next two fiscal years of 2014 and 2015.
“It’s a great want, but I don’t see a pressing need at this time,” Gasperson said.
Commissioners in favor of running the water line have said connecting the systems was originally phase I of the county’s 20/20 Vision plan and want to connect the systems for regional purposes in case of future drought situations. The connection will ultimately mean that Polk County and its towns are connected from Asheville to Charlotte, as well as already being connected to South Carolina through Inman-Campobello Water District.
But resident and former commissioner Renée McDermott stood at the Feb. 4 meeting and questioned commissioners’ hurry on the line. She said the comprehensive plan committee put the waterline along Hwy. 9 as a priority in order to get municipal water to Mill Spring, then planned to run the line up and down Hwy. 108. When the committee placed the line as a priority, they didn’t know that a waterline would be built along Hwy. 108 first, she said, taking care of the water needs of the Mill Spring area.
“So, what’s the hurry,” McDermott asked. “It can’t be Polk Central School. Based on the request of the school board and the school superintendent, Polk Central’s well was upgraded at a cost of about $40,000, rather than spending more than $1 million of the taxpayers’ money to put in an unneeded waterline.”