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Time running out on stalled sewer project


By Angela Harne
The Enterprise

Monday, July 17, 2017

FARMVILLE — The town of Farmville has been granted a 30-day extension to enter into its low bid to complete the sewer installation project at Watkins Mobile Home Park, according to Farmville Manager David Hodgkins.

This is the third extension the town has been granted by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Water Infrastructure, the agency that first awarded the town a grant several years ago to complete the project.

It is at a standstill due to dissatisfaction on the Farmville Board of Commissioners with the ability of the park’s owners, Country Farms LLC, to meet a community standards agreement, which was signed Oct. 7, 2014.

Approximately four years ago, the town applied for infrastructure funding from the Community Development Block Grant program on behalf of Country Farms LLC.

The town received a $1.617 million grant to connect 81 homes to Farmville’s sewer collection system through one pump station, which will be installed in the mobile home park. The park now runs on individual septic tanks — 20 percent of which are failing.

Per the grant stipulations, the town has to complete the project by June 11, 2018.

To date, no construction work has started, however, approximately $350,000 has been spent on the project, which must be paid back to the state if the project is not completed.

In January, the town received a low bid of $1.894 million from Ralph Hodge Construction Co. to complete construction of the sewer lines.

Since Country Farms had not fulfilled the community standards agreement to the commissioners’ satisfaction, the board voted to table the award of the bid.

That bid offer expired in March, but Ralph Hodge Construction Co. has agreed to “keep the labor costs the same, but can’t control material costs,” said Farmville Mayor Bobby Evans.

Upon completion of the project, the town will receive approximately $70,000 in tap fees and will result in an estimated $50,000 net annual income based on a monthly usage of 5,000 gallons per household.

Commissioners voted 3-2 June 29, 2015, to move forward with a $2.386 million Community Development Block Grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and a $40,500 supplemental grant to improve Watkins Mobile Home Park with the only costs associated to the town for this project being related to electrical work and maintaining the pump station.

Town commissioners are tentatively scheduled to meet this month to discuss the project. An exact meeting date and time were not available at press.

If the board opts not to award the contract, the town would “basically be declining the grant,” Hodgkins said. The money spent to date would need to be repaid in full, he added.

“We are continuing to work with the owners of Watkins, who are working in good faith to improve the park’s appearance. They are making good progress,” Hodgkins said.

The Enterprise serves western Pitt County including Falkland, Farmville and Fountain.