Glenwood sewer decision reached
At a public meeting regarding the decommissioning of the Glenwood Estates sewer lagoons Tuesday, one theory was affirmed loud and clear: It’s all about the money.
Representatives of Leavenworth County and the City of Basehor led a packed meeting at Glenwood Ridge Elementary School, which included a 45-minute question-and-answer segment that was largely focused on the cost of the project.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued Glenwood Estates a permit to use its current sewer lagoons when it was established in the early 1990s. Earlier this year, the permit expired, and the lagoons have reached full capacity. Thus, KDHE ordered the sewer lagoons decommissioned, and the residents of the subdivision must connect to Basehor’s sewer system.
After months of discussion and negotiation, the city council chose a plan it believed to be the best route for the project: The lagoons will be emptied by gravity feed into a newly built lift station near Glenwood Estates. From there, the waste will be pumped to the existing Pinehurst lift station, which will need to be expanded to support the added volume. The sewage will then go to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.7 million.
One member of the audience Tuesday night asked why the current plan was selected when a second, less expensive option — a plan that involved a force main along 158th Street — had been presented.
“There’s a lot of unknown variables,” Leavenworth County engineer Mike Spickelmier said. “(The plans) were very comparable, but there were a lot of things going on on 158th Street that weren’t going to work out for us. The advantage to the route we’ve chosen is it is pretty much unencumbered vacant ground.”
Another audience member asked how much Glenwood residents’ property taxes would be after the project was complete.
John Flower, county commissioner and chairman of the Sewer District 3 Board of Directors, said the exact figures of the cost and how it would be assessed to individual properties was unknown at this time. All entities involved in the project have worked extensively to mitigate the cost, Flower said.
“We’ve been very blessed — you might not think so — but, we’ve been blessed that Basehor, the school district and the county are working together to drop (the cost) as much as we possibly can,” Flower said.
Other questions addressed the difference in cost between this sewer project and a similar situation that recently occurred in Cedar Lakes Estates. Decommissioning Glenwood’s lagoons is looking to be more than two times the cost of the Cedar Lakes decommissioning.
Spickelmier explained the difference in proximity to the Pinehurst lift station, which both subdivisions will use, accounted for a portion of the price disparity, along with the necessity of expanding that lift station, building a new lift station and a possible raise in city connection fees.
Audience members also expressed frustration with paying city connection fees on top of the county connection fees they had already paid.
Basehor City Administrator Mark Loughry said the city was sensitive to the immense financial effect of the project, but nevertheless, the city could not allow residents to connect onto its sewer system without paying a fee.
“We charge everyone connection fees to connect onto our sewer system,” Loughry said. “When I bought my house, we had a connection fee of $3,200. You’re all paying it at the same time, and so it looks like a large number, and it is. I understand you’ve already paid to connect to the county, but please understand that has nothing to do with the city of Basehor and our wastewater treatment plant.”
The Leavenworth Board of County Commissioners, with Clyde Graeber absent, voted, 2-0, during a separate portion of Tuesday’s meeting, to adopt the proposed plan for the Glenwood sewer project and to submit the plan to KDHE. Engineering on the project has been asked to begin immediately.
Near the end of the meeting, County Commissioner James Tellefson made a few comments to try to reassure those present that everything possible was being and had been done with their best interests in mind.
“I was skeptical like you at first,” Tellefson said. “But everyone is really trying to make this work. The school district really started this going in a positive way, and I’m really grateful to (Superintendent) David Howard. We can’t wait on this anymore.”