By Tim Cox
Mercer County officials are to meet today with a state official to determine whether the county is eligible for a low-interest loan to help build a new sewer system in western Jefferson Township.
Commissioners have been in the preliminary planning stages of a new sewer treatment and collection system to serve a section of Fleetfoot Road, state Route 29 and Menchhofer Woods for about a year. State EPA officials are pushing the effort because of failing private septic systems in that area.
No cost estimates for the project have been set.
The project would install new sanitary sewer mains to serve 47 homes in the Menchhofer Woods subdivision and the string of homes and businesses along state Route 29 and Fleetfoot Road. County officials are hoping to save money on the project by tying the new sewer lines into the existing wastewater treatment plant located at the county home.
County officials and Fanning/Howey Associates engineer Jared Ebbing are to meet today with a representative from the Ohio EPA's Division of Environmental Financial Assistance. County officials are seeking a potential low-interest loan to help fund the sewer project. Grants are not an option for this project, Ebbing said.
"This is just a loan. This area is not going to qualify for low- to moderate-income grant funding," Ebbing said.
Ebbing suggested that some of the cost to property owners could be reduced by tapping into the county's annual Ohio Public Works Commission allocation that can be used for a variety of infrastructure projects.
"Instead of maybe paving a road one year, that money could be put toward this project," Ebbing suggested.
Ebbing and county officials said they also would like to hear from Menchhofer Woods residents about the proposed placement of sewer lines through the wooded subdivision. Engineers staked out potential sites for the lines to run among the homes, but officials have not heard any feedback from neighbors.
In an unrelated sewer project, Ebbing said the new extension of the sewer system that serves Burkettsville and New Weston has been completed. That extension project was a private venture funded by Eldora Speedway, which is owned by NASCAR race driver Tony Stewart. The track was under EPA orders to connect to a public sewer system prior to the upcoming racing season, which begins next month.
The track is now connected to the sewer system, which pipes sewage to St. Henry for treatment.
Commissioners marveled at how fast the Eldora project was planned and constructed.
"Private projects are slicker, quicker and generally easier to deal with," Ebbing said.