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Published: Wednesday, 12/18/2002

Foes of waterline win partial victory

DELTA, Ohio - Opponents of a proposal to bring public water to part of Swancreek Township at an estimated cost of more than $9,700 per home got a promise from the water district board last night that no action will be taken until late April.

They were unsuccessful, however, in their attempt to remove Tom Hall as chairman of the water district. Swancreek Township trustees, who had appointed Mr. Hall to the water board, had asked unanimously for his resignation earlier this month, saying residents were unhappy with his leadership.

Mr. Hall said during a meeting with two of the trustees before the water board meeting yesterday that he would not resign. The water board's attorney, Bobbie Corley O'Keefe of Columbus, conducted the meeting and did most of the speaking. She said the water board supports Mr. Hall.

After the meeting with trustees, Mr. Hall said he would not resign because “I don't think I did anything wrong.”

Both meetings were marked by open opposition from an audience of about 50 residents.

In a second meeting last night, the water board unanimously agreed to advertise for bids for the proposed project that would take public water to about 575 homes. Bids are to be opened Jan. 21.

After the meeting, there were so many unhappy comments from the audience, which had grown to more than 60 people, that Mr. Hall reconvened the meeting to introduce a motion that the water board would not act on the bids for at least 90 days after opening them.

It passed unanimously.

The request was made by Tom Sullivan, a leader of the newly formed group called Concerned Citizens of Swancreek Township.

His group, which appeared to include many of last night's audience members, surveyed the owners of homes in the affected area last weekend and found that 400 opposed the project at the estimated price, 55 favored it, and 105 did not want to comment or were not reachable, according to Mr. Sullivan.

The water board did not have an estimate of how many residents favor the project, but members said numerous residents do not have enough high-quality water from their wells or worry they will run low if more homes are built in the area.

Mr. Sullivan said he thought the cost per home needs to be $6,700 or less for a majority of the residents to support it. An early estimate of $11,263 was later reduced to $9,715, payable over 20 years.

But the latter figure did not include a tap fee, or other expenses included in the first estimate.

Mr. Hall, a Swancreek Township resident who is employed as code administrator with the city of Wauseon, has said he hopes competitive bids will lead to lower actual costs than the estimates.

He said grants might be available to help some low-income residents with the cost.



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