According to Jimmy Hyma of Fort Oglethorpe’s engineering firm, ARCADIS, Geraghty & Miller, the city is asking the county to move the initial phase of the West Chickamauga Creek sewer interceptor to the top of the priority list ahead of two other sewer projects scheduled for the Mack Smith Road and North Avenue Road areas in the northwest portion of the county.
The sewer and interceptor projects are being funded by special-purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) funds, which are distributed by the county to Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe. The county set the sewer project priority list last year as part of the SPLOST distribution plan. Voters approved the current SPLOST in June 2003.
Terry Reynolds, an ARCADIS engineer, said by having the initial phase of the interceptor complete, as the northwest area projects are finished they can immediately tie in to the interceptor which is a sewerage line that will funnel sewage to Moccasin Bend in Chattanooga. Hyma said constructing the interceptor first will allow the city to avoid building extra pump stations to transport sewage from the Mack Smith Road and North Avenue area projects.
“The first priority for the city is the interceptor,” Reynolds said. “We want to connect as many people as quick as possible. We want to see how many people we can serve for the least amount of dollars.”
Catoosa Planning and Zoning administrator Ron Brown said the county’s priority list is based on areas that are in the direst need of sewerage service.
“The county did not put the priority list together on our own,” he said. “We got together with the health department and chose the most critical areas; those areas where residences could be condemned by the health department or EPD (Georgia Environmental Protection Division). The northwest end is one of the worst in the county. It’s the most critical of the critical.”
County manager Ed Vickrey said he is concerned about changing the sewer priority list because when the SPLOST was passed the list was included as part of the referendum that voters approved and also included in the intergovernmental agreement between Fort Oglethorpe, and the county which designated the West Chickamauga basin as Fort Oglethorpe’s responsibility.
According to Reynolds, under the city’s proposed priority plan the first phase of the interceptor should be complete by July 2005 with the Mack Smith area and North Avenue area projects being completed by July 2006 and 2007 respectively. The third and final phase of the interceptor is scheduled to be finished in January 2009.
County Attorney Renzo Wiggins said there are some legal issues that would need to be explored first in order to change the priority list.
At the request of Mayor Judd Burkhart, both city and county officials agreed to create their own committee to continue discussions of the proposed change to the sewer priority list.
Councilman Alan Marshall and Councilwoman Jane Moye said before the sewer projects are even started the city would like to have money from the county in hand because they do not want the city to have to use its funds to pay for the project and then be reimbursed at a later date by SPLOST funds distributed by the county.
The two committees are tentatively scheduled to meet at an undetermined date in February to further discuss the issue