COLUMBIA CITY — Members of the Blue Lake Conservancy District appeared before the Whitley County Commissioners at their most recent meeting asking for matching grant dollars to fund needed projects to the area.
The district manages the sewer utility for the homes at the lake. These lines, as noted at the meeting, then run waste to the plant run by the town of Churubusco.
Recently, grant funding became available through the federal government for states to use on infrastructure projects. Applications for this grant money are due by July 15.
The district members reported they were looking to receive some of this funding they reported the area was very much in need of, but added they were meeting with local government agencies to see if matching funds could be made available to help them.
One of the projects the district would be looking to fund is replacing items at the lift station used by them and the town. Members said they also did a detailed drawing of the hydraulic system, and after a study, began to take proactive steps toward infiltration for areas having issues when wet weather hits. This money could also go to these upgrades.
The project that needs the most attention, said district member Lisa Waterman, would be for septic elimination in the Timberlane service area. This effects approximately 25 homes, which Waterman said have been having issues for years. Altogether, the projects total around $2.6 million. A matching grant, they said, would help make all three projects possible.
Commissioner George Schrumpf pointed out that the county was also looking to capitalize on the same grant for needed county-wide projects.
He told them that no matter what they do with the funds the county will be audited on them and the commissioners would need to evaluate how the money is being used to make sure best practices are being followed.
Schrumpf said this presents its own set of problems as the rules for the grant are still being worked out.
“We will take you into consideration, but we have to know where we stand as far as our commitments. I know we have a few commitments with community corrections and broadband commitments,” he told them.
Commissioner Theresa Green added, “a project like this, in all honesty, I don’t think is going to be on the agenda for the funds.”
She did suggest the group should consider partnering with the Town of Churubusco to possibly capitalize on grant funding with them.
Waterman responded, “at some point you have to get over there because we have issues,” adding, “anything you could offer us would be better than zero.” She recommended if they consider any of the projects, they would need to look at the septic elimination.
Ultimately the commissioners took the request under advisement. At the meeting they approved an agreement with Baker Tilly to complete a study and five-year plan on how best to prioritize government funding.
County attorney Matt Shipman pointed out this area was technically not under the district’s boundaries, and Waterman added that based on its location though it would likely still fall under the responsibility of the Blue Lake Conservancy District.
Shipman put forth a recommendation that some agreement be reached with one another later to address these issues.
In other news, the commissioners approved an inter-local agreement with the town of Larwill. This comes as part of a Community Crossings grant project, which will address the road leading to the Richland Township Fire Department that is in need of repairs.
As part of this, the commissioners also approved a bid submitted by Brooks Construction for the Community Crossings project in the amount of just over $796,800.