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Clarksville eyes $1M water grant / December 15, 2010
The Town of Clarksville received an early Christmas present from Commonwealth of Virginia: approval of a $1 million funding package for updating water lines.

In a Nov. 18 letter to town manager Melinda Moran, the Office of Drinking Water wrote that the town had been approved for a $813,861 grant, referred to by state officials as principal forgiveness, and a $542,574 loan, repayable over 30 years at 3 percent interest.

Getting the money would depend on the availability of state and federal funding and the meeting of 13 conditions.

The town has until Dec. 17 to respond to the offer, either accepting or explaining any additional factors that should be considered.

Members of Town Council discussed the offer at their workshop meeting Dec. 7.

While they agreed that the offer is very attractive, they said they would need to take a closer look at the town’s ability to handle the additional debt.

Moran will notify the state of local officials’ interest in the project as well as their concerns.

In a later phone interview, Connie Torres, vice mayor and chairwoman of the budget and finance committee, said council thought the application submitted last spring had been turned down until the letter arrived.

“This is wonderful,” she commented. “It’s an amazing deal that’s not likely to come along again. We would like to investigate further. We will let them know of our strong interest.”

The town had received a Rural Development grant to study water system needs and had elected to spend additional money for a more detailed study.

“That may have been a wiser decision than we realized at the time,” she said.

Clarksville previously was awarded a $25,000 planning grant from the Virginia Department of Health to perform a water system modeling and hydraulic analysis of the water system, as well as a $24,300 planning grant from to conduct a water audit, leak detection survey, an mapping of the water system infrastructure.

The engineering firm Wiley and Wilson, Inc., Lynchburg, was hired to do the water system studies.

Tom Gray of the engineering firm assisted the town with the study and preparing the application.

In a phone interview, he said Clarksville, like small towns all across Virginia and the U.S. has “things they need to take care of” to maintain and replace portions of their aging infrastructure.

Gray, who formerly was with the state drinking water division, called the conditions enumerated in the funding letter “boilerplate.”

Richard Elliott, Clarksville public utilities director, said the town proposed upgrading 6” line to 12” to improve water pressure where the DER told the town it was not adequate for fire protection.

During downtown revitalization in the early years of the decade, the town brought a 12” line from Second Street to Seventh Street. The proposed project would finish that line, extending it to the intersection of U.S. 58 and Route 15. A new line would be built from that intersection along Route 15 to Chandler Street, Elliott said.

On the other side of town, a new line would be run on Ferry Street from Buffalo Road to Forrest Hill Drive.

Several smaller projects also would be tackled, he said. All the work will line maintenance. No changes will be made at the water treatment plant.

If the town accepts the funding package, it will be obligated to execute final agreements or initiate construction by Nov. 18, 2011, or risk being by-passed for funding for the project.

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