Bids to construct a detention pond at Greenway Estates subdivision expired on June 16th before Northwood City Council could decide whether to proceed with the project.
The bids were good for 60 days, which ended on June 16, Administrator Bob Anderson said last Wednesday.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the project will not go forward, he added.
“We could write to the companies and ask if they can hold the bids for another 30 days,” said Anderson.
“The problem is council is very divided in its support for the project,” he added. “So it’s not going anywhere.”
The Service Committee had recommended in April that council approve the $276,000 bid of Paschal, Bihn & Sons Excavating for the project. The recommendation was later changed to Vernon Nagel when it was determined the bid specs had not been followed.
The pond would be located on vacant city property east of the subdivision. The city purchased the four acre site a couple of years ago to build the pond because of flooding issues in the area.
Council has been locked in a debate on whether the city should assess properties in the subdivision, near the Woodville Mall, to fund the project, since the pond would improve drainage in that area.
Council at an April 25 meeting couldn’t agree on whether residents should be assessed.
Councilman James Barton, chairman of the Service Committee, said the project should be funded by the storm water management fund, some of which is used for daily operations. Just under $1 million is currently in the fund.
Some on council have said that the public already is assessed because a portion of their water bills go towards the storm water management fund.
Council continued discussion on the matter at a May 2 committee of the whole meeting, but again couldn’t come to an agreement.
Council President Connie Hughes, who backs assessments, did not think it was fair for the city to cover the costs of the pond when others in the city have been assessed for similar projects. Hughes has been assessed over 30 years to pay for a detention pond in her neighborhood.
Mayor Mark Stoner said council is setting a bad precedent to use storm water management funds for such projects, particularly if there would not be enough money to cover future emergencies.
At a council meeting on June 13, the debate continued.
“What’s been decided about assessing?” Stoner asked council.
“We’re still talking about taking it out of the storm water management fund,” said Barton. “We’re going to have close to $1 million in that fund. What else are we going to be using that money for?”
“I don’t know,” said Stoner. There could be an emergency. You never know.”
Councilman Mike Myers wanted to know how the city could fund some drainage projects, but assess others, like Hughes.
“I think we need to make a decision if we’re going to assess those people or not, and if we don’t, what are we going to do with the people who have been paying assessments?” asked Myers.
City Law Director Brian Ballenger said Hughes’ neighborhood association, rather than the city, owns the pond.
“So if something goes wrong, and there is no homeowner’s association, who is going to pay the ticket?” asked Stoner. “Where’s the money going to come from?”
“From storm water management,” said Barton.
“My concern is, will the city now take the position that we are going to pay every storm water improvement that comes through here because you’re setting a dangerous precedence if you say we’re going to pay for this and not assess it,” said Stoner.
“Who have we assessed? I don’t think we’ve ever assessed anyone for storm water,” said Barton.
“I think we have,” said Stoner. “I’ll have to go back in the records and find out.”
“Everyone talks about storm water management. But how does it help the west side to put a pond over here that’s going to help two neighborhoods?” asked Stoner.
“This could be phase one, and phase two could be some other troublesome area,” said Councilman Dean Edwards. “I don’t think it stops. It keeps going. If we’re collecting funds from the public, that’s what those funds should be going for.”
When the city built a pond at Brentwood Park, it also covered costs to improve drainage for some residents on Dillrose, said Barton.
“I have a major problem with it,” Stoner said about using the storm water management fund for a pond at Greenway Estates. “I don’t think it’s the right decision.”
Barton said he was concerned that the city sent letters to residents in the subdivision over a year ago saying a detention pond would be built to improve drainage in the area.
“We said we were going to fix that and put a pond in,” said Barton.
In addition, some residents attending a town hall meeting said the area was a big concern, said Barton.
“If I lived in that neighborhood, it would be my number one concern, too,” said Stoner. “I just can’t see putting that kind of money into that.”
Edwards said the city purchased the property with the intent to build the pond.
“What are we going to do with the property?”
“We can always sell the property,” said Stoner. “We shouldn’t lose on the land.”
“It’s a decision you guys will have to make,” Stoner said to council on whether to approve the bid for the pond. “I think you’re setting a dangerous precedence if you’re putting detention ponds in every neighborhood.”
“We’re not putting it in every neighborhood. This neighborhood had a concern and had a problem,” said Barton.
“This is such a contentious thing,” said Councilman Ed Schimmel. “I’d hate to vote on [accepting the bid] when we don’t have several members of council here. I understand we’ve gone out to bid a couple times.”
“And every time we go back out to bid, the cost keeps getting higher and higher,” said Barton.
“I can see the mayor’s point on this thing,” said Schimmel. “We have some housing developments in the city that do not even have storm sewers. That’s a project, if the city has to take that on, I have to imagine that’s a massive amount. I think we should hold off on this and just go out for new bids.”
“I just think this is a big mess,” said Barton. “I’ve been through this so many times. I’m done with it, to be honest with you.”