By Jeff Gallatin
City of Cleveland water department officials Monday made another pitch to City Council to have Bay Village enter into a new 20-year agreement with the utility agency.
Water department officials made a similar pitch several years ago, with Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland endorsing entering into a long-term agreement with Cleveland, but City Council took no formal action on it. However, City Council later indicated, with then-council President Brian Cruse leading the way, that it was not interested in joining the city of Westlake in leaving the Cleveland Division of Water and entering into a service agreement with the Avon Lake water department.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Sutherland indicated she still is in favor of entering into a 20-year agreement with Cleveland.
“There’s not any downside to it from my perspective,” she said. “They would take over formal ownership of all the water lines in Bay Village. Having them be responsible for the repair- and replacement-related costs is a big thing, because we have a lot of water lines in Bay Village that are in the 100-year range. Plus, we would be eligible for those grant and major project funds which Cleveland makes available to those cities that enter into the agreement with them.”
Sutherland cited Parma Heights as one similar suburban community that benefited from entering into the 20-year pact with Cleveland.
“It got a major project done, which helped its infrastructure,” she said. “We could do something similar. I think we could put the Cahoon Road needs out there as a project where we could get new water lines put in.”
Jason Wood, of the Cleveland Division of Water, said the terms of the agreement are essentially the same as they were when the initial deal was offered several years ago. He said having the Cleveland water department accept formal ownership and responsibility for the lines has been appealing to smaller cities.
“We’ve had some success with getting communities to accept the agreement,” he said, noting Fairview Park and Rocky River as Westshore cities that have already accepted the agreement.
Council Finance Committee Chairman Mike Young said prior to Monday’s meeting he still had some questions about how quickly Bay Village could actually get capital improvement funds from Cleveland for any lines in Bay Village.
“If I were the Cleveland water department officials, I’d have to look at deciding what to do first, and my understanding is that Cleveland has some lines that are about 50 or 60 years older than a lot of Bay Village’s,” he said. “I think they would have to think about replacing those lines first. So, I’ll have to take a look at what Cleveland presents to us.”
Young said he would not be able to attend Monday’s meeting, but will be reviewing the materials and Cleveland’s presentation.