By Jeff Gallatin
City Council Vice President and Finance Committee Chairman Mike Young wants to make sure the city doesn’t get left high and dry as a result of Westlake’s wanting to switch its water service from the city of Cleveland to Avon Lake.
Young reiterated Friday that Bay Village needs to get an independent study done to see the possible effects of Westlake switching its water service from Cleveland to Avon Lake. That proposed move is currently tied up in court between the two cities. Bay Village, like other western Cuyahoga County suburbs, has been a longtime customer of the Cleveland Division of Water. Young initially brought the subject up during council committee sessions Aug. 5 prior to a special council meeting.
Young said he has two primary purposes in seeking the independent study.
“The primary one is to find out what type of potential problems we could have if Westlake does indeed switch over from the city of Cleveland to Avon Lake,” he said. “And if we can get it included in the study, I’d also like to have the study take a look at whether the city of Bay Village should also take a look at going to Avon Lake as well.”
Young said his primary concern stems from the possible effects on the waterlines in Bay Village that run through Westlake.
“We need to know what effect that would have on our service in Bay Village,” he said. “A lot of the lines for Bay run through Westlake. If they tear those up or change them, we need to make sure that we have access to lines and water.”
During discussion at the council meeting, one resident asked if taking care of the current lines and any problems, present or future, weren’t the responsibility of Cleveland.
Young said the Cleveland water department is indeed responsible, but said he doesn’t want to take chances with service to Bay residents, businesses and organizations.
“An independent evaluation would better serve us in terms of getting us unbiased information,” he said. “I’d rather rely on that type of report.”
Young said finding a firm capable of doing the study that does not have ties to either the Cleveland water department or the Avon Lake water department is challenging.
“There aren’t a lot of them out there which don’t have some connection to Cleveland or Avon Lake,” Young said. “I’ve talked to Westlake about how it conducted its search, as well for some additional insight. It’s going to take a little time, but we should take it to make sure we find the best one possible to get the best possible information.”
Young said getting the best possible information includes considering whether it would be better for Bay to switch to Avon Lake from Cleveland.
“We should consider all possibilities, that included,” he said. “The study should consider all the different factors. For example, if we switched, would we have to deal with the flow issue through the pipes? Now, it goes east to west with Cleveland to Bay. Would we have to deal with reversing flow from west to east if we switched to Avon Lake? What other changes would we have to make, and would it be better for us in the long run? It’s something we need to have a discussion on.”
Mayor Debbie Sutherland expressed support for doing a study on the effects on Westlake’s proposed switch and how it would affect Bay Village, but expressed reservations about switching from Cleveland.
“Doing a study would definitely be beneficial to Bay Village,” she said. “It would certainly provide useful information to us as we deal with any possible repercussions of Westlake’s actions.”
Sutherland, who has long supported Bay Village’s receiving service from Cleveland’s water department, remained skeptical about switching to Avon Lake.
“Avon Lake doesn’t have the resources or the service redundancy that Cleveland does,” she said. “I just don’t see where switching would benefit this. When Avon Lake can muster those type of services, maybe then we can look. But now, I just don’t see it.”