Douglas City Officials In Process Of Creating Three New Special Assessment Districts To Deal With Problematic "Spaghetti" Water Lines
Still faced with either a lack of main water lines or problems caused by “spaghetti” lines, the City of Douglas is in the process of creating three special assessment districts in different parts of the town, including the areas at or near McVea Street, Freemont and Ellis streets; and May Avenue and 1st Street, to construct new standard water lines.
Douglas officials reported on Monday they will have more information about the costs and specificities of the project at the next meeting in two weeks, as they are currently holding talks with city engineers.
“People (developers) are waiting to build,” Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere said in his Monday report, referring to a number of homebuilders wanting to build around the affected areas.
But the city first wants to make sure there is adequate water supply infrastructure before giving developers the green light.
“There is a clearly a desire to move forward,” said LeFevere.
The problem is a complex one.
Part of the root cause is that when the Douglas community was first being built, waterlines were not installed in every street, officials have said.
Spaghetti connections—homes supplied by other lines that do not include the main water line—are substandard and unsuitable to provide for present and future development.
The main lines are owned by the city, but managed by the local water treatment plant, Kalamazoo Lake Sewer & Water Authority (KLSWA).
Asked what portion of the project expenses will be shouldered by the homeowners and what portion will be the responsibility of the city, if any, for the three proposed districts, Douglas City Treasurer Bob Drexler informed The Local Observer, “We haven’t decided on that yet.”
He explained engineers still need to lay out more details, come up with an estimate, and bid out the project.
There was an unfavorable response on the part of some affected property owners back in 2014 when the city proposed creating the Freemont-Ellis Street Water Main Special Assessment District, near W Center Street.
The pushback culminated in the city withdrawing that plan. Critics were particularly concerned with cost, particularly if the city had opted, among other options, to have the nine homeowners shoulder all the expenses for a water main assessment, estimated then to total $100,000, meaning $11,000 for each property.
The other option was to have both the city and property owners contribute to the cost, though the exact split was still a matter of discussion.