Officials act on sewer project

Commissioners will vote today on whether to bail out the sinking project.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County officials have finally found a way to keep a sanitary sewer project in the Damascus area from being flushed down the drain.
"It's been a tough one to bring about, but it looks like we're right on the doorstep," said Bill Coleman, office manager for the Mahoning County Sanitary Engineer.
Here's the plan: The county plans to build a sanitary sewage collection and treatment system in Damascus to serve about 200 residents there and in surrounding Goshen Township. Some of the homes are in Columbiana County because Damascus sits on the border between the two counties.
The system is needed because a number of septic tanks in that area have failed and some are leaking into residents' drinking water.
Construction was to have begun a year ago, but has twice been delayed because bids from contractors were higher than the amount of money on hand to pay for the project.
A third round of bids was sought in May, and more money has been found to finally get the project moving, Coleman said.
Covering the cost: County commissioners are being asked to chip in about $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds. That, coupled with about $1.5 million the county had already secured in other grants, will be enough to cover the cost, Coleman said.
County Administrator Gary Kubic said the CDBG money is set aside for a miniloan fund for small businesses, but isn't being used.
"The demand for the use of those funds is not very great," Kubic said.
If commissioners agree, they can transfer the money out of the loan program and make it available for the sewer project. Commissioners were to vote on the matter today.
Looking ahead: If commissioners approve use of the money, contracts for the project will probably be awarded next week, Coleman said. Once that is done, construction could begin within 60 days and take about a year to complete.
The collection system had to be scaled back to bring the project under budget, Coleman said. All the originally planned primary lines will still be installed, but some of the smaller, secondary lines to serve the side streets will not.
Those lines will be added later, when more grant money is secured, Coleman said.
He said the project is being paid for entirely with grant money so none of the cost is being passed on to users.

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