Monday, March 26, 2001

Lebanon balks at land price




By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — The city's plan to buy land for water wells appears to be dead because City Council has balked at the $1.5 million cost.

        “They don't want to budge on price, and we don't, either,” Councilman Mark Flick said. “We just weren't going to go that high.”

        Mason businessmen John Flaherty and John Zopff own some of the land and have options on the rest. Their cost for all 130 acres would come to about $800,000 — nearly half what they are asking from the city.

        Council has delayed voting on the proposed contract at the last two meetings in the wake of concerns about water availability and the cost.

        “I think it's going to just die a quiet death,” Councilman James Reinhard said of the legislation.

        The land — on Bunnell Road southwest of Lebanon — sits atop the Shaker Creek Aquifer, an underground layer of sand and gravel that holds water.

        Tests completed early this month showed the city could double its water capacity by building wells on the land, officials said.

        Long-term, however, most of the aquifer's capacity could be absorbed by Mason and other users who already are drawing water in the area.

        Possible alternatives for Lebanon include running pipes south to Cincinnati or north to Caesar Creek. City consultants are expected to complete a report on the city's water resources, needs and options by late summer or early fall.

        Now is the time to act, Mr. Reinhard and others said.

        A Caesar Creek hookup could cost $7 million to $8 million, officials say, but could draw 30 million gallons of water a day, versus 2 million to 3 million gallons at the Bunnell Road site.

        Construction costs will only go up if the city waits to act, Mr. Flick and Mr. Reinhard agreed.

       



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