Town's 208 sewer project nearly complete

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BELOIT ≠≠- Work is nearly complete on the Town of Beloit's West Bank Sanitary and Water Extension, commonly known as the 208 project, with crews expecting to be finished by the end of the month.

Town of Beloit Public Works Director Joe Rose said all of the water and sewer lines were installed about a month ago. He said Rock Road Companies Inc. is looking to finish paving this week and is in the process of shaping ditches.

Last week, the Town of Beloit Board of Supervisors considered sending a letter to residents in the 208 sewer and water project area, detailing the project's expected timeline. The board also discussed hosting another informational meeting to update residents on the status of the project.

"It's a pretty significant investment in our infrastructure, so we're just trying keep residents as up-to-date as we can," Rose said.

Rose said the 208 area, which spans approximately three miles and more than 10 roads, will add about 300 residences to the town's collection system. Crews have added ditches to most of the roads included in the project to the chagrin of some town residents.

"Any time people go from not having a ditch to having a ditch, I could see why they'd be upset," Rose said. "We're trying to preserve the life of the road, so we have to get the water off the road."

The other option would be to add storm sewers with gutters, which Rose said would drastically increase the cost of the project.

"We're just trying to manage the storm water the best we can while keeping residents safe," Rose said.

He notes most of the roads had ditches 50 to 60 years ago, and residents have either filled them in or sand and salt has washed into the ditches.

"(The ditches) were overdue for a reworking," Rose said.

He also notes the ditches meet the requirements for storm water maintenance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The 208 area consists of the land surrounding Afton Road between Newark Road and Burton Street. The $5.86 million project is updating basic utility needs including water, sewer and road improvements for areas of Newark, Afton and Dawson roads.

Town officials are calling on the city to finish negotiations on the 208 project.

"We've got to get this resolved; there's health and safety issues here," town chair Diane Greenlee said.

She added raw sewage in residents' homes is one of those issues.

In 2008, the city and town entered into an agreement related to the 208 project, but after revisiting the document city officials said the agreement is not enforceable. The city claimed the agreement is vague, and also does not cover special property assessments in its language.

Town officials have been calling for the finalization of the 208 sewer project negotiations.

Greenlee said the town has considered litigation.

"We've held off on the hope of reaching agreement," Greenlee said. "If they won't even meet with us I don't think it's going to be resolved in a timely fashion. It's come down to the wire, and we need to address this."

City manager Lori Curtis Luther said the city remains willing to work through a sewer agreement with the township.

"We have repeatedly indicated that this is one of many components of a comprehensive cooperative boundary agreement," Luther said. "We have even provided for service to a property with failing septic through a memorandum of understanding in a show of good faith."

An agreement by the municipalities will center on the timing of utility connections and whichever method of payment is agreed upon to be paid by city residents, which could include special assessments to properties.

Town and city officials were previously meeting to negotiate about the 208 project as well as a boundary agreement. However, when the town submitted its incorporation application to the state, city officials called off a meeting with the town, stating the city would need time to review the application. City and town officials haven't met about a boundary agreement or the 208 project since. The town's deadline to complete the project is at the end of 2018. Work began in September of 2017.

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