Lagoon proposals revealed Monday
The public had a chance to look at two proposed locations Monday night for a new lagoon at the Fairfield wastewater treatment facility.
McClure Engineering prepared a few drawings which it put on display at the water and sewer utilities committee meeting. The proposals were of particular interest to the families who live near the plant who may be forced to sell their homes.
Terry and Edith Meyers own two parcels of land, 15.33 acres and 2.76 acres with a home, and are listed in engineering documents as having land the city needs to purchase for the sewer project.
Lila Williams owns about 10 acres of land north and west of the sewer plant on Marigold Boulevard. The city would need to purchase land from her in either proposal, but under one of the proposals, it would have to purchase and then destroy her home. One proposal involves putting the lagoon north of the existing plant, which would require the city to purchase about 5 acres of Williams’s land. The other proposal involves placing the lagoon west of the plant, right where Williams’s house sits.
Williams said she understands the city’s need to build a new lagoon but that doesn’t make her situation any less frustrating. She’s not sure why, but she has had terrible luck with houses being subject to eminent domain throughout her life. If Williams is forced to move, it will be the fourth time in her life she will have moved because of a conflict with local government involving either eminent domain or zoning.
She has lived at her current house for 20 years and does not want to lose another home to a governmental edict.
“It looks like I may go into my senior years without ever once having found a home my government has not taken away from me,” she said.
Even if the city decides to locate the lagoon north of the plant, odors from the lagoon could be strong enough to affect Williams’s quality of life. Williams hasn’t made up her mind about what she’ll do in that scenario.
Building a lagoon west of the plant would cost less in construction and would be able to hold more effluent, according to McClure Engineering’s estimates. Mike Starkey of McClure Engineering said building the lagoon on the west side would cost $2.9 million and could store 20.3 million gallons of waste. Building on the north side would cost $4 million and could hold 18.4 million gallons. Further, he said the soil north of the plant is sandy and that is bad for a lagoon, which would require the city to move more dirt and spend more money.
Starkey said the city probably would need to purchase two properties and obtain waivers from seven property owners. He explained a waiver is not the same as buying the property outright. A waiver is an acknowledgement from the property owner in the area that the city has the right to expand its operations closer to a person’s home.
David and Jacquelynn Triska live just south of the sewer plant where they own 19 acres. Triska said he is most worried about the smell coming from a new lagoon.
“The current lagoon is at the bottom of my hill, which doesn’t usually raise that much of a concern because I get south winds which keep the smell down,” he said.
However, if the city puts the new lagoon west of the sewer plant, it will be above Triska’s ground, and he’s worried the smell will be bad. He’s also worried the new lagoon could leak into his pond. Melanie Carlson of French-Reneker-Associates said during the meeting the city chose the lowest spot in the area when it built the sewer plant in the 1960s, so the lowest spot is already taken.
“If this works out, it won’t be that bad,” Triska said. “Putting the lagoon on the north side would be the best bet, although it costs the city more money.”
Triska said one issue he wants to investigate is how the new lagoon will affect the value of his home.
“How many people are going to say, ‘I’ll give you $110,000 to live next to a lagoon?’” he said.
Orville and Ulala Conger run Conger Farms with their daughter, Nanette Everly, and son-in-law, Ken Everly. They own 120 acres north of the sewer plant. If the city puts the new lagoon on the north side of the plant, it would have to get an easement on 37 of the family’s acres. If the city built the lagoon on the west side, it would miss their property altogether.
Orville Conger said the city needs to go through with the project, but it is unfortunate it will have to disrupt people’s lives. His ground is in cultivation, and the construction would interrupt farming.
“We would be out bunches of money,” Conger said.
Conger said it would be better for his family if the city built the lagoon on the west side, but he’s not going to try to persuade the city council one way or the other.
City councilor Daryn Hamilton told the audience Monday the utility committee will discuss the proposals further at its next meeting, and then recommend one of them to the full council. Starkey said the plan is to break ground on the project this fall, and for the construction to last 18 months.