Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Water main fate being addressed

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The city may be out of the water business very soon.

        City commissioners will vote next week to approve a contract to sell the Newport Water Works to the Northern Kentucky Water Service District for $17.1 million. That deal may or may not include a 3,550-foot water main that runs through the Newport Shopping Center.

        The water district has asked for the line to be replaced.

        Not coincidentally, that water line is the same one that broke two years ago, resulting in water, gravel and dirt being carried into a broken Cinergy gas line and shutting down gas to more than 3,700 Newport customers, some for more than a week.

        “We don't feel that the entire line needs to be replaced, but we can also understand the water district's stand given the circumstances,” City Manager Phil Ciafardini said Tuesday.

        There is also the matter of a new easement with the owners of the Newport Shopping Center for the water line. That issue is being discussed by City Attorney Mike Shulkens and the attorney for the center.

        “We could probably complete the replacement work under the existing easement agreement, but it's almost certain that the water district will want a new easement when they assume ownership of the line,” Mr. Ciafardini said.

        “The bottom line is, we have to replace the entire line. If we don't, we'll still be in the water business as far as maintaining that line.”

        Mayor Tom Guidugli said the city is also talking with the shopping center owners about some financial assistance in replacing the line, which is the main service line for water to all the stores in the center.

        “We think there should be some help there,” he said. “This sale is an important step for the city, which means it's also important for the shopping center.”

        The city will realize about $8 million from the sale, when a debt payment of $8.96 million is made at the sale closing and other outstanding costs are covered.

        That money is tentatively earmarked for an emergency reserve fund, and a separate revolving fund to provide low-interest loans to city businesses and home/property owners.

        Although city commissioners will vote on the water sale contract next week, the Water District board won't vote on its approval until Feb. 22.

        Meanwhile, the city intends to begin work on replacement of the water main immediately.


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- Water main fate being addressed