Residents of a Greencastle area subdivision, hoping to find a solution to sewage issues plaguing their neighborhood, came away from Monday night's Putnam County Commissioners' meeting with a trickle of hope after officials promised to look into the issue in the next two weeks.
The residents of Edgelea, which is located on U.S. 231 just north of the Greencastle city limits, made a formal request to Commissioners Kristina Warren, Gene Beck and Jim Baird that they investigate the drainage and poor street conditions of their neighborhood.
County officials said they have held off on doing anything about the streets and drainage until the ongoing issue of failing septic systems in the neighborhood is solved.
Last month, residents and business owners along U.S. 231 North attended a meeting with the city to go over the details and costs of installing public sewer lines and hooking on to the city's wastewater collection system.
On Monday night, the commissioners voted unanimously to have Putnam County Highway Superintendent Dave Sutherlin and Commissioner Baird go to Edgelea and take a look at the current drainage system in the neighborhood. Residents said Monday night that some of the underground drain tiles have collapsed, which has led to significant flooding problems during the rainiest parts of the year.
One of the leaders of the neighborhood committee looking into the drainage, sewage and street issue, Linda Katula, attended the commissioners' meeting and was pleased with the outcome.
"I'm very pleased that they're willing to look at our request and see if there's a way they can help," Katula said.
Resident Alan Barber, who took the committee's request to the commissioners, said getting the county to take a look at the drainage and street issues is an important first step to solving the problem.
"We would like to begin to expedite the process," he told the board.
Commissioner Baird agreed that the county should take action before the board's meeting on July 16.
"I think that'll give us a lot better information," Baird said.
After the meeting, Katula stopped short of saying the residents would ask the county to foot the cost of repairing the drainage and resurfacing the streets, but she hopes they can evaluate the situation and partner with the residents in order to bring the total cost of the project down.
At last month's meeting with the city, some residents were shocked to learn that the engineer's estimate for installing sewer lines, replacing storm drains and putting down a fresh coat of blacktop on the streets would cost each homeowner as much as $23,000. Of that total, Katula said about $8,000 was estimated for the drainage, plus additional money to repave the streets.
The idea that the county, whose jurisdiction covers the entire area facing the problems, would be able to help bring down the cost was welcome news to residents.
"We have people on fixed incomes," Katula said.
Recently, Katula went on to explain, the neighborhood committee conducted an informal survey in which they found that a large number of residents understand the severity of failing septic tanks and the need to take action.
She said that another, smaller, portion of residents understands the problem but doesn't have the money to fix the problem and a few simply disagree that there is a problem to solve.
Katula is hoping to learn more from the county at its next meeting and move on from there.
In other business, the commissioners:
* Approved $66,728 in funding to replace bridge No. 114 beginning next week. Commissioner Warren said a portion of the bridge has collapsed, rendering the structure unusable and forcing the closure of the road. The commissioners approved E & H Bridge and Grating Company to do replace the bridge.
* Discussed repairs to Manhattan Road between the Greencastle city limits and Tesmer's Corner (a distance of about 3 miles). The commissioners learned about a type of resurfacing material, known as a slurry seal, that could help fill in some of the cracks along Manhattan Road and save the county having to put new blacktop on the road. The slurry seal would cost approximately $1.50 per unit to put down, compared to 65 cents for chip and seal and more than $4 for hot mix, which is blacktop. The commissioners seemed willing to consider the slurry mix because the cost would fall in the middle between the most expensive option and the cheapest option.
The commissioners agreed repairs are needed, with Beck stating that Manhattan Road hasn't been resurfaced in 13 years.
* Tabled a request by DNR Forester Alan Royer to move the division's local office from its current location to the Courthouse Annex. The commissioners seemed willing to rent half of a single office space in the building to the DNR, but wanted a little more time to work out the details.
Other agencies -- those that aren't run by the county -- pay up to $400 per month for office space in the annex.
* Listened to a request from residents along CR 950 South about a problem bridge in their neighborhood. The residents say people are congregating underneath the abandoned bridge where they shoot guns and cause problems for neighbors.