New water system due to reduce town's bills

Port Deposit residents likely to pay 30% less

May 02, 2004|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

PORT DEPOSIT -- The approximately 800 residents of this Susquehanna River town are in line for a new water and sewer system that will result in a sizable decline in their annual water bills

When the system is in place, perhaps as early as summer 2006, town residents can expect a 30 percent drop in their bills, possibly as much as 50 percent.

This is a sharp contrast to homeowners in Baltimore City and the surrounding counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard and Carroll that tap into Baltimore's water system. They learned recently that they face a 27 percent increase in their water bills over the next three years. The increase is to pay for federally required repairs to Baltimore's leaky sewage system. The Port Deposit system has no connection with the Baltimore system.

George G. Perdikakis told the Town Council here last week that existing customers would see a minimum decline of 30 percent in their bills. He said the decline could be as much as 50 percent. The current average water bill for residents is $600 a year.

Perdikakis is president of GGP & Associates LLC, a Lutherville-based environmental engineering and construction management company. He is a former director of the Maryland Environmental Services and director of Baltimore County's Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management.

He is under contract to a team of Maryland developers, commonly referred to as the Manekin team, that plan to redevelop the 1,200-acre former Bainbridge Naval Training Center property.

The team includes Richard Alter, president of Manekin LLC in Columbia; Clark Turner, president of Clark Turner Cos. of Belcamp; and John Paterakis, a commercial developer in Baltimore.

Turner told Town Council on Tuesday that "no issue is more pressing for us ... than resolving the water and sewer issue. Because without the water and sewer issue being resolved, nothing gets started up there [at Bainbridge]. We don't create any of the economic tax base we are trying to create."

The Manekin team is moving ahead with plans for a $750 million mixed-use residential and industrial complex at the former Navy boot camp that closed in 1976. The plan calls for 1,250 homes on 300 acres, a move that would more than double the town's population.

A few hours before coming to the council meeting Tuesday night, Turner said he received a draft copy of a memorandum of understanding from Perryville town officials on a plan for a regional water system that would also serve Port Deposit.

He told council that he had not had time to evaluate the proposal.

On Friday, he said the plan "misses the mark a bit from what Port Deposit had asked for."

"We are not quite there yet," he said, "but we will be setting up a meeting with the two towns and see what we can work out."

Turner said that if a final agreement can't be reached, the Manekin team is prepared to build its own water system to serve the town and the Bainbridge development.

This is the closest the two towns have come to reaching an agreement on a community water-and-sewer plan.

County officials have estimated that a $20 million upgrade of Perryville's water system to serve Port Deposit and Bainbridge would cost considerably less than building individual systems for each community.

A sticky point in the negotiation has been guarantees that each community would have enough water to meet its planned growth.

In answer to a question from Councilman John Klisavage at Tuesday's session, Perdikakis said the development team likely would have to pay the cost of operating the water and sewer system for about 10 years, until the town was able to take on that expense.

Asked by Klisavage ifthe town would have to reimburse the developers for that cost, Perdikakis responded: "No, sir."

Bill Eldred, the town's community development director, told the council that the current water system is in such a state of disrepair "that for every gallon of water pumped, one-half a gallon is lost."

Earlier efforts to resolve the town's water problem were blamed for killing another ambitious development plan for Bainbridge. In the summer of 2000, Reston, Va.-based Lowe Enterprises Community Development Inc. announced plans for a $500 million resort, conference center and business center at Bainbridge.

It would have been one of the biggest development projects in the history of the county. But Lowe abandoned its plan two year later when it was unable to reach an agreement with the town on a plan for water and sewer to serve the site.

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