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Council picks funding plan for wastewater treatment plant

Financing of improvements at the town’s wastewater treatment plant and closing of a city street were the primary items addressed at Monday’s meeting of the Norwood Town Commission.

Chuck Willis of Willis Engineers presented details of two alternatives for funding improvements at the wastewater plant, located south of town near the Rocky River.

Choices included financing via a low-interest loan through the North Carolina Clean Water Revolving Fund, or through a combination grant and loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Although the USDA option could potentially provide more funding, Willis identified a number of disadvantages the board should consider before making a decision.

“Under the USDA option, there are many more requirements, regulations and reviews,” he said. “Also, the program does not allow construction in a floodplain, which would require a redesign of the project.

“The state option would not carry as many regulations,” added Willis, “and the current plan (which involves repairs and renovations within the Rocky River floodplain) would not need to be re-done.”

Other considerations were the payback period on debt service (40 years under the USDA option, as opposed to 20 years under the N.C. Clean Water Fund) and increased utility rates.

“Both plans would require an increase in sewer rates,” said Willis, “but the N.C. Clean Water Fund would not require as drastic a rate increase as would the USDA program.”

Following discussion on the options, the Council chose to seek funding for the project through the N.C. Clean Water Revolving Fund by a 4-1 vote.

Earlier in the meeting, commissioners voted unanimously, following a public hearing, to move forward with the closing of Collins Avenue, which had been petitioned by Axtion Sportswear, the owners of the former Collins & Aikman plant on the town’s north side.

“Following the petition, we set the public hearing, ran required newspaper ads and posted notices in the area,” said Michael Sandy, the town’s Planning and Zoning officer. “And, if the resolution to close the street is adopted, the petitioners would assume responsibility for maintenance of the street.”

Current easements along the street would remain in effect, added Sandy.

Town Clerk Carmen Salmon, who had directed the Norwood Arbor Day Festival one week earlier, reported that the event was a success both financially and logistically.

“We had 11 monetary sponsorships, as well as numerous in-kind sponsors,” she said, “and things came out very well.”

Salmon noted the event, which has a $22,000 budget, came in nearly $3,000 below that figure.

“Counting revenues from sponsors and vendor fees, the entire event only cost the taxpayers of Norwood a little over $7,000,” she said.

In other business, town commissioners:

• Approved a contract with the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for improvements at Darrell Almond Park;

• Approved a release of liability for town police to assist with unlocking vehicle doors and jump starting stalled vehicles;

• Approved acceptance of a donation for memorial park benches to be placed at the Norwood Farmers Market;

• Tentatively set 12 p.m. May 23 as the time for the naming ceremony of Coone Way, a street connecting Anson Avenue and Turner Street.

• Approved a change of location, from Town Hall to the Center Rural Volunteer Fire Station on South Main Street, for the commission’s next regular meeting at 7 p.m. May 20.