City changes tone on new treatment plant location

Posted on April 22, 2016 by Mat Pellegrino

The city is currently questioning why they even purchased the Tiger Point Golf Course.
Since they acquired it for $2.9 million in 2012, the city has failed to make the profit on the course that they envisioned. And their intentions for the course have nearly dissipated.
One of the city’s original motives when they purchased the failing course was to save money on a new wastewater treatment plant by purchasing the golf course, which houses one of South Santa Rosa Utility System’s wastewater treatment plants, and just expand that plant. Before purchasing the golf course, the city had plans to build a new treatment plant on Bergren Road, but the cost to build on a new site was essentially going to cost the city twice as much than expanding the treatment plant on the golf course instead.
“The capital cost is twice as much,” said City Manager Edwin “Buz” Eddy. “And the annual operating cost is $600,000 more at Bergren Road than at Tiger Point.”
But despite their intentions, the city’s vision has not gone as planned. And the city is pointing their finger at the county because of it.
According to Eddy, right now, Santa Rosa County has the city in a tight spot. The city was given a checklist from the county that they had to adhere to in order for the county to give them an OK to expand their wastewater treatment plant adjacent to the course. Last year, the county went back and forth with the city on some of the previsions, and ultimately never finalized that list for the city. The crossroads situation has left the city in a tight spot.
Unable to expand their wastewater treatment plant, with time ticking away.
At Monday’s City Council meeting, SSRUS placed a recommendation on the city’s consent agenda asking that the city moves ahead with building a new wastewater treatment plant on Bergren Road, if the county couldn’t draw up a revamped conditional use agreement by Sept. 1. The recommendation was met with no discussion from council.
Tom Naile, recently spoke as Chairman of the SSRUS board and advised board members that the Bergren Road plans are ready to go and that they simply need to be “dusted off”, according to meeting minutes. Naile said there are currently no plans for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant on TPGC drawn up.
The property on Bergren Road is already owned by the city, but the cost to build the actual treatment plant will be twice what it will cost to expand the plant at TPGC.
But Eddy said the city is wanting to move on this issue now because time is becoming a factor.
“The city wants an answer by Sept. 1. If the answer is that the permit can’t be granted to the city if we don’t open the west course….or all of the things outlined in the contention, that may be their only option,” Eddy said.
Eddy said the reason the issue was brought to the city council by SSRUS was because SSRUS reports indicate that their wastewater treatment capacity is teetering on its max capacity.
“We need to have treatment capacity online by 2020 or 2021. Treatment plants take a lot of time and effort in permitting and design and construction…so we have to get going on this now,” Eddy said.
Another reason for the city’s purchase of the golf course back in 2012 was because of their fear of the course going into bankruptcy. The course going into bankruptcy, the city thought, would have forced property values to plummet and people to move off of the course. Therefore, losing SSRUS customers.
The item was approved to the city’s consent agenda for future discussion.