CLAYTON -- After John Street townhome owners negotiated a third payment option with the town, a long-awaited project to replace the residential sewer line and repave John Street is coming to fruition.
After protracted discussions with residents, the town council arrived at two different payment options for residents to make it as convenient for them as possible to pay the $4,500 that the project will cost each homeowner. Property owners have been discussing the issue with town officials since April.
The town recently approved a third payment option suggested by homeowners who wanted to avoid interest rates altogether and pay the full price of the project upfront. The town will give them a 10 percent discount.
“A few folks who had the funds available brought up the idea so they would save money rather than pay interest rates,” said Town Manager Steve Biggs.
The town will be sending out easements next week for the homeowners to sign. For those who sign the easement within 15 days of notification, their payment plan will be over a 10-year period with only 2 percent interest. Those who don’t sign the easements will have only six years to pay off the cost at a 6 percent interest rate.
The town wants to repave John Street as part of its roughly $3 million downtown street repair program, but problems with the sewer system serving the 16 John Street townhomes make it likely the town would soon have to dig up its new street.
In order to avoid that, the town wants to fix the sewer system first. Because that work benefits only those property owners, town policy requires that they pay for it.
While the town hoped to get the work for John Street started by August, the construction will now begin in a few weeks once residents have signed the easements. Up until now, the only work on John Street has involved installing new storm drains and building new curbs and gutters.
Once the sewer replacement begins, public works and utilities director Tim Simpson estimates that the whole project will only take three to four weeks.
When plans for the project were announced in April, they were met with criticism, but Biggs said he sympathizes with the homeowners.
“Any time you talk about making an assessment where people have to pay it’s to be expected,” he said.
Over the months of negotiation, some homeowners have also emphasized their disappointment in the project, with some asking why the town can’t pay for it themselves.
Town Manager Steve Biggs has said that the town’s water and sewer sales don’t rack up any kind of reserves that could pay for the project.
“Water/sewer is self supporting,” Biggs said. “There is no tax money, no outside funding. All we make is the money we make off of the sale, and everything we sell is pretty darn cheap.”
Clayton gets its water and sewer services wholesale through the county.