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Great Lakes Article:

Take action promptly to OK study of Lorain sewage plant move
The Morning Journal
11/26/03



Lorain's hopes for a better future are riding on wise development of its lakefront.

A 30-acre gem ready for polishing is the site of the former pellet terminal on the west bank of the Black River next to City Hall.

Plans for that site envision shops, restaurants, offices, 10 acres of green space and 1.5 miles of lakefront trails to attract visitors.

Unfortunately, this gem currently sits between the city's 50-year-old sewage plant on the river's east bank and a planned 7.5 million gallon retention tank, behind City Hall, to prevent sewage overflowing into the lake.

It's a bit like having a fabulous new wide-screen TV on order for your home, but the only spot available to put it is currently between a toilet and a slop bucket. The obvious best choice is to remove the latter two items to make best use of your entertainment space.

The Foltin administration is asking City Council to approve a $250,000 state-funded study to determine whether the current sewage plant can be moved from its lakefront site. Federal help is being sought for the subsequent $6 million planning and design cost for a new plant. One consultant estimates the move to a new plant itself could cost more than $100 million.

In a 3-2 vote Monday, a council committee delayed action on the feasibility study. Opponents said more information is needed first about how the plant move would be paid for before proceeding with the feasibility study.

In turn, Foltin has sent a letter to the full City Council membership asking that council override the committee action and approve the $250,000 feasibility study at its meeting on Monday. Foltin and Councilman Anthony Krasienko, D-Ward 3, also want council to include an amendment for re-evaluating the plan to put the 7.5 million gallon retention tank behind City Hall.

In his request, Foltin notes that the current sewage plant is operating at full capacity, with no room for expanding, and that could impede future development and prevent taking on paying customers such as Sheffield Village.

The city is under Environmental Protection Agency orders to eliminate sewage overflows at the current plant, and a new plant located elsewhere could help Lorain meet that order and protect the health of residents in Lorain and around the Great Lakes, according to a letter from Sen. George Voinovich to a congressional subcommittee, seeking the $6 million for design costs. But to get that $6 million, the city first must provide Voinovich with the results of the feasibility study that the council committee is sitting on.

City Council members would be wise to approve Foltin's request for immediate action on the sewage plant feasibility study and re-evaluation of the retention tank plan. While those studies move forward, the questions about financing the plant's move can be worked out.

The city is less than two years from facing enforcement action on its sewage overflow problem, according to the legislation. That makes prompt action on the feasibility study important. If the city is forced to install the 7.5 million gallon retention tank to avoid sanctions, then Lorain could remain stuck for generations with sewage treatment as a key feature of its lakefront scene.

That stinks.

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