County defers contract on Piney Run water plant

Officials want to secure access road rights of way

March 23, 2001|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County will not proceed with plans to build a $13 million water treatment plant on Piney Run Reservoir in Sykesville until it obtains the land it needs for an access road and pipeline.

The commissioners reviewed yesterday a $477,570 contract for designing the plant, securing state construction permits and putting the work out to bid. The county legal staff has approved the contract, but the commissioners will defer approval until they have secured rights of way from residents along Hollenberry Road. The county plans to widen and pave the winding gravel road and use it as access to the proposed plant at the southeastern end of the 300-acre lake.

"The road and the pipeline into the plant are key factors," said Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge. "This is a major contract that all three of us must also go through with staff."

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he did not want to prolong the process, "but I want to make sure we are on the right track and that there are no surprises. If there is no access, there is no need to sign a contract."

Doug Myers, county director of public works, has received appraisals for property along Hollenberry Road but has not negotiated with residents.

At Gouge's request, Myers also will organize an informational meeting to review plans with neighbors of the plant.

The plant will be able to process as much as 3 million gallons of water a day, which is needed to increase the supply in South Carroll. The area has suffered several water shortages and bans on outdoor use of water during prolonged dry spells.

Black and Veatch, a Gaithersburg engineering company, designed a larger plant in 1993 at a cost of $2.1 million. At that time, the estimate for the completed plant was $10.2 million. Those plans were scrapped a few years later in favor of expanding the Freedom plant on Liberty Reservoir and building a series of wells.

Dell and Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier voted last summer to revive the Piney Run plan, despite strident opposition from Gouge and several community groups. Initial funding - about $2.2 million - is available in the county's enterprise fund, and the original design is viable.

"We will be using the same basic contract," said Isaac Menasche, senior assistant county attorney.

Black and Veatch will scale back the plant from 6 million gallons a day to 3 million. The cost estimate includes the company's efforts to secure a construction permit from the state. The county reserves the right to terminate the contract.

"Black and Veatch will do 30 percent of the contract work and then give us a preliminary estimate of the construction costs," said Menasche. "If the estimate is high, it will be an opportunity for you to re-evaluate."

When design and permitting are completed, the company will provide an estimated cost - within 10 percent - and assist the county in putting the project out to bid.

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