Westminster road work OK'd despite town's desire to wait New county commissioners might reverse action

December 08, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Before leaving office, the former county commissioners decided resurfacing Lucabaugh Mill Road wouldn't wait, while Westminster sought money to add measures to protect its water supply from potential increased runoff.

Commissioners Richard T. Yates and Donald I. Dell last week ordered a contractor to start raising and resurfacing a section of Lucabaugh Mill Road near a stream the city taps for its drinking water. The road intersects Route 27 northeast of the city. The stream flows south under Route 27.

The commissioners acted despite Westminster's request for a two-month extension to seek a state grant to pay for drainage protection measures. City officials fear the project will increase runoff of gasoline, oil, antifreeze, salt and other contaminants into the stream.

The decision may be reversed by the new members of the Board of County Commissioners, who were sworn in yesterday. Neither of the new commissioners, Robin Bartlett Frazier nor Julia W. Gouge, were available for comment yesterday.

Dell, who was elected to a third term, said he would be willing to reconsider, but only if the county's $110,000 share of the $160,000 project is reduced.

Former Commissioner W. Benjamin Brown, who learned of Yates' and Dell's decision several days after the vote, called it "an arrogant mistake that will come back to haunt the county in the future" in dealing with other municipalities.

Westminster Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said the commissioners' decision doesn't make sense.

"The contractor is willing to wait, and there's a reasonable chance the grant will be able to be maintained, so what's the harm in waiting?" he said.

The section of Lucabaugh Mill Road scheduled for resurfacing is east of Route 27 near Cranberry Branch, which supplies the city water treatment plant. City officials want to add storm drains to divert road runoff into a wetland that would filter contaminants.

Thomas B. Beyard, city director of planning and public works, said Westminster frequently stops taking water from the stream after rainstorms because of runoff contamination.

Westminster will go ahead with its grant application despite the commissioners' action, Beyard said. He said the city could contract for the runoff diversion later, "but I think it's going to cost more if you do it separately."

Dell and Yates signed an authorization to award the construction bid after the city failed to meet a Dec. 1 deadline to provide its $50,000 share of the project. Westminster offered $17,000 and had begun seeking a $33,000 grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

The submitted bid was scheduled to expire Dec. 1, but Beyard obtained verbal assurances from the contractor that the price would be honored for an additional two months.

"I don't know how long you're going to wait. We gave them a deadline, and they didn't make the deadline," Yates said.

"If it was their project and they wanted to pay the whole thing, I'd say, 'Sure, you can wait as long as you want.' But it's our project and our funds."

Dell said he would reconsider extending the deadline, but the county's deal to increase its share by $23,000 to help pay for the safeguards is off. The bid price for the road resurfacing without drainage safeguards was $86,000.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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