Lagoon project moves forward

By Mike Shearer, Observer Correspondent June 08, 2012 12:39 pm

Cove city councilors approved a $2.8 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year Tuesday.

The councilors did so after last-minute adjustments to Cove’s cash-on-hand categories to pay out a mediation settlement of $75,000 to Tom Bowman, who had a long-running disagreement with the city over documents he had alleging water irrigation rights to run-off water at the lagoon site.

The city is moving forward on a project to add a second sewage treatment lagoon because of oversaturation of the current lagoon that was cited by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Lawyers for the city and for Bowman had been negotiating for more than two years concerning Bowman’s claims.

City councilors feared the litigation could delay the lagoon expansion project on land donated to the city by Sonny Johnson. Bowman owns land near the lagoon.

Councilors decreased the upcoming cash-on-hand amounts by $37,500 for both the hydro plant and sewer operations.

Councilor Lyndon Rose urged councilors to call the removal of the funds from the  hydro plant a loan because a pipe replacement may be necessary on the Bridge Creek segment of the pipeline that feeds into the diversion and the hydro plant. 

Pipe replacement from the Mill Creek span two years ago led to less water loss and dramatically increased revenue for the plant.

Councilors agreed to call the funds coming from the hydro fund a “loan” rather than a “transfer.” Revenue from the hydro plant, Rose pointed out, is the reason for the relatively low tax base in Cove.

Brad Baird of Anderson Perry reported to the councilors that the sewer project funding application is in the final stages of approval.

The council hopes the lagoon expansion project can begin this summer and be completed before a hard freeze to prevent further oversaturation with the next spring thaw and any DEQ fines.

In other business, Councilor Bob Rhinevault shared with the council a letter from the Oregon Department of Transportation he received saying ODOT would be “reluctant to approve” the city’s proposal to move the crosswalk near the school on Route 237 at Mill and Orchard streets to what some in Cove felt would be a safer location near the post office. 

The letter said, “ODOT is usually reluctant to approve marking crosswalks at such locations, since they can end up actually being less safe than if they were left unmarked.”

The council indicated it would not pursue the matter at this time.

The city also heard from Patty McClure and took her advice and signed a letter of intent to apply for a grant to create a multi-purpose lane that would run from the school to Conklin Lane. If approved, the grant could lead to a bicycle and pedestrian project beginning next summer.

City Recorder Donna Lewis said she would have candidate packets ready for the fall election by the July meeting. Three council seats and the mayor’s seat are up for election. Mayor Jim Lundy has indicated he may not be running for re-election.

Councilor Rose has stated he will seek re-election, and Councilor Bob Rhinevault has not indicated yet whether he will run again. The other council seat is currently open.

Councilors said goodbye and congratulations on graduation to Brittany Hargrove, current student councilor. Mikayla Murchison will be sworn in as the new student councilor at the next meeting.