City looks to help expand sewer service in Holt; improve Hurricane Creek ParkFrom Tuscaloosa News
Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 1:00 a.m.
Calling it a “spirit of cooperation,” the Tuscaloosa City Council is looking to approve two requests from the Tuscaloosa County Commission that will bring sewer services to Holt residents and improve the park at Hurricane Creek.
At the request of County Commissioner Jerry Tingle and Farrington Snipes, Tuscaloosa County's director of planning and community development, the council's Public Projects Committee agreed Tuesday to let Holt residents tie on to the city's sewer system without being annexed.
City policy mandates that those outside the city limits who want access to the city's sanitary sewer network must first become city residents and taxpayers, but the City Council can waive the requirement under certain circumstances.
Among these circumstances are requests from other governmental agencies. The City Council previously has granted permission for a smaller group of Holt residents to tie in to the city's sewer network.
The work is being funded by $9.023 million in federal disaster relief grants that the Tuscaloosa County government sought from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs as a means to spur storm recovery efforts in this area.
County taxpayers are making up the remaining $2.644 million that will deliver sewer services to 295 existing homes and could serve an additional 487 houses, should they be built.
Bids on the estimated $2.9 million Phase I are expected to be opened next month, while the $8.768 million Phase II remains in the planning stages.
No city funds were requested on Tuesday. The only permission the county asked of City Hall was the ability to tie in to the existing system once Phase II is completed.
The full City Council is expected to vote on approving the county's request next week.
“I think it went well,” Tingle said of Tuesday's request. “We'll just have to see how it goes as we move along. It's a very expensive project.”
Councilman Kip Tyner, chairman of the council's Public Projects Committee, agreed, especially since the sewer line extensions will bring sewer services to a pocket of city residents in the East Park neighborhood, which is otherwise surrounded by county jurisdiction.
These residents have made repeated requests for sewer services, Tyner said, but until now have been denied.
“They've been a long-suffering neighborhood, but they've always been respectful,” Tyner said. “I'm really happy about this today.”
Tyner and the rest of the committee were also receptive to a request to help Tingle and county officials improve Hurricane Creek Park. However, the committee decided to wait until next month to approve a request for $200,000.
Tingle said he already had obtained permission from his fellow county commissioners to use $200,000 of his discretionary funds to improve access to the park off Alabama Highway 216 by paving a lengthy entryway, while adding a self-composting restroom on-site.
“It's a worthwhile project,” Tingle said. “It's used by a lot of folks.”
The park is managed by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, but because its 249 acres lie in both city and county jurisdiction, its upkeep is the responsibility of both.
Gary Minor, PARA executive director, said PARA work crews have difficulty accessing garbage cans and other areas of the park, while parkgoers have been known to use wooded areas of the park because there are no restrooms.
The council committee was supportive of the request but wants additional time to find where the $200,000 could come from.
“This is a real opportunity for another great partnership with the county,” Tyner said.
Reach Jason Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0200.