By Ed Runyan
The Trumbull County commissioners have written a letter to Lordstown officials asking them to hold off on spending $339,000 to $533,000 to repair or replace a poorly functioning sewer line on Hallock-Young Road.
The sewer line, which the village had installed to serve the Imperial Mobile Home Park, is working only at about 70 percent of capacity.
So village officials approved a contract a month ago with S.E.T. Inc. of Lowellville to repair or replace between 5,700 and 9,470 feet of the sewer line at a cost of $339,000 to $533,000.
But county commissioners say village officials should stop before spending that money because an option exists that would cost only $65,000.
“The county has existing sewer lines at the entrance to the park with ample capacity to serve all residents at a fraction of the cost the village intends to spend,” the letter says.
The $65,000 is the cost the county would have to pay to construct a sewer line from the mobile-home pump station to a manhole at the intersection of Ellsworth Bailey and Hallock Young roads, the letter says.
The distance is about 500 feet.
The county and village of Lordstown have been in litigation in federal court for several years over the question of whether the village or the county has the right to operate sewers in Lordstown.
A judge could issue a final ruling in the lawsuit at any time, county officials say.
If the judge rules in the county’s favor, the county would most likely seek to disconnect the mobile-home park’s residents from the village’s defective sewer line, the letter says.
This type of ruling by the judge “would make the village’s attempt to replace/repair the [village sewer line], at a substantial cost, all the more wasteful and unnecessary,” the letter says.
“While the [county] remains confident in the outcome of the litigation, the Board [of commissioners] also remains open to a mutually-beneficial resolution,” the letter says.
Arno Hill, mayor since January, said he’s open to a negotiated resolution of the matter.
“If the county wants to talk, just give me a call,” Hill said. “Don’t send me a letter. I’d be willing to sit down with them and a few council members and our legal representative and have some discussions.”
Hill said he’s never had discussions with the county regarding the lawsuit since he’s been mayor and thinks the “egos” of county and village officials in the past prevented fruitful negotiations.
“I think this could have gotten worked out,” Hill said.
The sewer lines, which were installed to serve the 300 customers in the mobile-home park and another 300 customers elsewhere on the east side of Lordstown, have produced other lawsuits besides the one with the county.
It also has cost more than originally planned because it hasn’t worked correctly and because the design had to be modified to accommodate a gas line, officials have said.