City to pay entire cost of Bayview sewer extensions

Residents packed Assembly Chambers with signs reading 'honor our agreement'

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bayview residents won their battle with the city Monday night when it decided to shoulder the entire cost of a sewer extension for the North Douglas neighborhood.

The proposal to designate Bayview as a local improvement district would have required that residents pay for 17 percent of a sewer connection to the Mendenhall Valley sewage treatment plant.

Bayview's individual on-lot wastewater package sewage treatment plants are frequently out of compliance with state and federal permits. The city faces heavy fines from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation if the sewers are not fixed.

Instead of having each of the 68 households pay $4,500 for the extension, the city will cover the full cost at $1.9 million.

Assembly member Randy Wanamaker proposed a motion that the city fully fund the project and no other members objected.

"There was nothing new presented tonight," said Assembly member Merrill Sanford, who said he studied this issue for a year and determined the city was responsible for the care of the system.

The message was clear from Bayview residents who packed the Assembly Chambers holding signs reading "Please Honor Our Agreement."

In 1993, the city and the Bayview neighborhood entered an agreement that said in exchange for the residents paying for needed upgrades, the city would take over the system and assume all responsibility for it.

"We don't want to have to pay for the sewers a fourth time," said Bayview Homeowners Association president McKie Campbell, citing the residents' initial expense of installing the systems and updating them twice.

"I think there was no question that we accepted a system that we shouldn't have accepted," city manager Rod Swope said.

A city poll showed only three residents favored paying for the extension.

This would have been the first case in which the Assembly forced a neighborhood to become a local improvement district without its consent. Doing so takes either a 8-1 or 9-0 vote by the Assembly.

After building a new pumping station at Bayview, city engineer Rorie Watt said he favors a 6-inch main cross Gastineau Channel to the treatment plant in Mendenhall Valley. He said the main would be able to handle connections to other neighborhoods as well.

The total amount the city could have collected from residents would have been $250,000 to $270,000, Sanford said. The city will pay for the sewer connection with sales tax revenue, grants and utility fee reserves.

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