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P’ton sewers possible

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Sewer access seen as critical for Pendleton business development

By Jonna Spelbring Priester

A plan is in the works to bring sewer access to Pendleton.

The plan is in its infancy, and depending on funding sources may be years away from becoming more than a dream.

The plan would bring sewer access to Pendleton’s businesses from La Grange. District 1 Magistrate Roger Hartlage and others, including Harold Bratton, hatched the idea at a Cracker Barrel.

The idea is simple: an 8-inch gravity feed line to a pump station in Pendleton, then a 4-inch forced main to La Grange.

Hartlage said he spoke with officials in La Grange and Oldham County. The only concern La Grange Mayor Bill Lammlein expressed was capacity. “La Grange is looking at busting at the seams,” Hartlage said. “They want to make sure their plant can handle their extension before they take us on.”

Currently, Hartlage said, La Grange has a capacity of 775,000 gallons of sewage per day. “At the end of the year, they’ll be able to take 1.9 million,” Hartlage added. “I hope that La Grange doesn’t see us as a threat to their capacity.”

Stressing that the project is still very, very early in the planning stages, Hartlage said the current projected price tag is $2.4 million.

He sees the nascent project as one that is vital to Pendleton’s future economic development.

Currently, the two truck stops and Love Stuff operate on “package plants” for handling sewer, and those package plants are expensive to maintain, according to Hartlage.

Few new businesses can locate in the same area, primarily because of the lack of sewer access. “This is a problem that $2.4 million could solve, which isn’t that much money based on the impact it could have,” Hartlage said.

Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent agreed that sewer access is a necessity if Pendleton is to grow. The question, he said, is where the money would come from.

“I find it very hard to believe that there are grants out there, or that federal money will be given to service a half dozen businesses,” he said. He also expressed doubt that La Grange would pay for a line to Pendleton simply to serve businesses, “and you’ll have to bring some of those houses online.”

And that — forcing homeowners to hook up to a sewer system — is not something Brent is willing to endorse.

That said, he doesn’t think the project is hopeless, just a difficult one.

“I think it’s an uphill climb,” he said. “The state has stopped doing bonding projects. The same money that helped Campbellsburg get their sewer system fixed, that helped Eminence get a portion of the money that they need for their pump station upgrades, that helped fund several water lines and several water tank improvements to the Henry County Water system… has not been bonded for the last two legislative sessions.

“With the condition Frankfort is in, it’s highly unlikely that any money will be bonded in the future. That money has been taken out of the equation.”

That leaves Community Development Block Grants, funding from the federal government that is based on low to moderate income, Brent said.

The CDBG is relatively small — $18 million — and Brent indicated that the chances of getting the full amount for the project would be small.

“The only other routes you have are borrowing the money, or a direct line item federal appropriation, such as the one Geoff Davis helped us with on the commerce park in Campbellsburg… that took three years,” Brent said.

Brent said the project could even need private donations to go forward.

Despite the question of where funding would come from, Hartlage said the project has to start somewhere.

“I still think that it’s a little bit premature to think that we’re going to get it tomorrow,” he said. “The important thing is not to get excited — we need a plan. We do need sewers and we need a plan to make it happen. I think we’ve got that.”