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Troy council still seeking water tank land

| November 2, 2004 11:00 PM

By Roger Morris Western News Publisher

The City of Troy is still searching for a small parcel of land, a key piece to its proposed $2.6 million water improvement project.

The city needs a location between Callahan Creek and Lake Creek for a well and water storage tank to provide service for the ³old town² area.

Thus far they¹ve been rebuffed by a couple of landowners but they do have their eye on property owned by Stimson Lumber Co. The trouble is they can¹t contact Inland operations property manager Dwight Opp, who lives in Newport, Wash.

The city has identified another piece of private land and will have to talk with the owner, too.

Engineer Mike Fraser of Thomas, Dean & Hoskins of Kalispell said if land can¹t be found then the well and tank could be located on the city¹s property on Lake Hill. But that could add to the cost of the project because of the additional pipe and running the line beneath Lake Creek.

³If Stimson says no, where do we go next?² asked Councilman Ron Pierce. ³How long are we going to wait?²

Fraser said bids can be let and returned within 60 days of securing a well and tank site.

In the past, there was some discussion of placing another tank next to the city¹s existing tank on the west side of town. However, Fraser said that would mean replacing more water mains in that portion of town to maintain state required water pressure levels.

³It makes sense to spread the storage and not replace as many lines,² he said.

It also keeps the price of the project down, he said.

To cover the cost of the project, the city has secured a $500,000 Treasure State Endowment Program grant, a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant; a $100,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources and a $1.6 million loan from Rural Development.

Mayor John Brown asked what the monthly cost to city residents via their water bills would be. Fraser said he hadn¹t calculated it yet.

The city council was hoping to keep the cost to city residents at low to mid-$20 a month. Up from the present monthly bill of $14.

The city began talking about the need to do something with the water system several years ago when some water mains began losing large quantities of water.

The project would replace a significant number of water mains in the city and the service lines to properties. Initially, the city was looking at putting in the service lines to the buildings and installing water meters. Then there was discussion of putting the water meters on the edge of the properties and only extending the new service line to the meters.

The city is trying to eliminate as much disturbance to private property in the wake of the sewer treatment project, which tore up lawns, gardens and driveways.

Brown told Fraser city officials will continue to pursue Opp and look at other private property on the south side of town.

In other business, Paul Rumelhart of the Kootenai River Development Council gave a presentation of the Lincoln County Port Authority and its 411acres that was formerly the Libby mill property. KRDC provides administrative support for the Port Authority board of directors.

The old mill site is presently housing the Stimson fingerjoint operation, a landscape stone business, a wood-fired boiler manufacturer and a furniture manufacturer. A security company and one of the EPA contractors are using available office space.

Rumelhart said there is discussion ongoing with a rifle manufacturer and a log home builder.

³The port is a county-wide organization and we want to let people know that we don¹t just concentrate on the old mill site,² Rumelhart said.

³But the port is a land-based organization. The port has the right to own land, sell land and lease land,² he continued. ³If we have the opportunity to purchase land and bring a business to Troy or Eureka, we¹re going after it.²

Rumelhart said Troy and Eureka are in better shape than Libby economically.

³Troy has pretty good cash flow,² he said ³You have your own lumber company, you have your own power company,² he explained. ³Eureka is in great shape. They have their own electrical company, their own telephone company and they have Owens & Hurst.²

He said Libby is not in as good a condition because everything (cash flow) goes out.

Presently the post and pole business is attractive, Rumelhart said.

³Lodgepoles are wanted for grapevines,² he said. ³The demand on that market is huge.²

He noted that a post and pole business would be a match to ongoing efforts to improve the health of area forests. It would also work with the port¹s recent stewardship grant through the Forest Service.

In addition, the authority recently hired Damon Fisher of Spokane as their on-site administrator for the 411-acre mill site, he said.