The Cave Spring City Council has agreed to another consent order with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division for an upgrade to the city’s sewage system.
The council also engaged in considerable discussion about the fate of the old girl’s dormitory on the historic downtown campus that once housed the Georgia School for the Deaf, during a Tuesday evening meeting.
Mayor Rob Ware said the new consent order with the EPD is essentially a continuation of an order that has been in place since March 2018. The order stems from serious inflow and infiltration problems in lines to the city waste treatment plant on Mill Street. Aging brick and mortar manholes are also a large part of the problem.
The city has continued to have problems related to total residual chlorine, fecal coliform, acidic levels and dissolved oxygen levels in the sewage system.
“The violations are there and they (EPD) have to reckon with them ... they’re willing to work with us in our efforts to remediate that,” Ware said.
The city will open bids on Jan. 19 for smoke and video testing of the sewer system along with repairs to the network of lines that were originally constructed more than half a century ago.
The city has 45 days from the date Ware signs the new consent order to submit a new corrective action plan.
Cave Spring has already attracted $4.27 million in federal loan and grant money for the project. It also was the recipient of a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant and another $1,281,000 was earmarked in the 2017 SPLOST package to help pay for the project.
City Clerk Judy Dickinson said the city has already spent approximately $290,000 of the special purpose, local option sales tax money.
Ware said that potential fines from EPD total more than $10,100. But since the city is addressing the issue, the state is giving it credit for what it has already spent, and will soon spend, in lieu of collecting the fines.
Ware said the council also spent a lot of time Tuesday night discussing what to do with the old girl’s dorm building, which is owned by city.
City Attorney Frank Beacham is drafting a request for proposals for the building. However, Ware said some members of the council indicated a willingness to consider demolition.
“We need to get an idea of how much that is going to cost and compare that with their interest in an RFP,” Ware said.
The mayor said there are concerns about transferring ownership of the building, which would mean the city could not control how it is used.
“Use of the property is the big issue with council,” Ware said.
The building, constructed in the late 1930s according to Ware, is not in good shape and any kind of renovation would be expensive.
The council also made annual reappointments of city officials Tuesday night: Steve Burkhalter as municipal court judge, Dickinson as city clerk and Randy Lacey as fire chief. Councilman Tom Lindsey will serve as mayor pro-tem.