SHEFFIELD — When asked whether they favor a proposed $5 million sewer project, none of the about 25 residents at a Village Council public hearing Thursday raised a hand.
The 18-inch, nearly one-mile long sanitary sewer would run along Colorado Avenue down Harris Road to the new Sheffield-Sheffield Lake middle and high school facility scheduled to open in January 2015. The project would affect 44 properties, including 34 homes with septic systems, according to Mayor John Hunter.
The new sewer could accommodate future growth and allow the school to tap into the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, 2350 Abbe Road. The district currently uses a private treatment plant, which school officials say is aging, expensive and environmentally unsound. The school district would pay $500,000 of the cost for the sewer, which would be about 30 feet underground.
“(Sheffield) sees this as a one-time opportunity to provide sewer services to the northwest portion of the village,” an informational packet on the project provided to residents at the hearing said. “It’s going to be expensive whenever we build it, but interest rates are very low and we’ll never have an opportunity to essentially get a half-million dollar subsidy as is presently offered.”
However, residents balked at costs. In addition to about $2,500 in construction costs to tap into the sewer lines, Hunter said they would have to pay Sheffield a $6,500 tap-in fee and $2,209 fee to North Ridgeville, which owns the French Creek plant. The plant serves Avon, North Ridgeville and Sheffield.
Shaun Kanary, of 1585 Harris Road, said he spent about $30,000 on a mound septic system mandated by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency when he moved into his home in 2011.
“Now I have to spend another ($11,000) to tap-in?” he asked. “I’d rather spend it on lawyers’ fees.”
Keith Gudat, of 4734 Colorado Ave., said he understands a new sewer system might spur growth, but he can’t afford the cost.
“It’s out of the question,” he said.
Hunter, who said before the hearing that a decision might be made in June, stressed the project only would be done if Sheffield receives federal or state taxpayer grants or loans to reduce local costs. He said the engineering study performed on the project, which would take about a year to complete, was necessary for the project to be eligible for grants or loans.
“This is not a project that is set in stone to do,” said Hunter, who only casts votes on the Council to break ties. “We are not looking to put a burden on anybody.”
Council members also were cautious about going forward.
“I put myself into your shoes,” Councilman Walter Min said. “If I’m there and I’m looking at a big bill like that, it doesn’t look to good to me.”