PANDORA — With more petitioners for the Black Swamp Regional Water and Sewer District withdrawing its name from the petition to create the district, the proposed 6119 board is all but finished in Putnam County.
According to Pandora Mayor John Schlumbohm, the village voted to withdraw from the district petition during its regular meeting Tuesday. With more villages and townships withdrawing, the model did not seem sustainable, from Pandora’s perspective.
“We were basically in it for two reasons,” Schlumbohm said. “One is that we have services to sell. Second, we thought it would be best to have representation in it, so we could make sure it was set up right. Once all the other entities that really needed the service folded, we felt it was not for us to even be in it any more.”
The final straw may have come when Miller City, one of the potential beneficiaries of this arrangement, voted to withdraw from the petition at its Sept. 6 meeting. That community does not have a municipal sewer system, but with only Miller City, Pandora and Palmer Township left as petitioners at the time of the meeting, the district was seen to be untenable.
“One of the factors was the length of time,” Miller City Mayor James Erford said. “This started three years ago, and if this had gotten to the judge (for consideration) at a better time, it would have been all right. But it just went on too long, and when the commissioners and the village of Ottawa dropped out, it was big.”
Schlumbohm still believes that this model is a good idea, blaming a wave of negative public perception for its demise in Putnam County.
“I still believe it’s a viable tool that would benefit Putnam County,” he said. “But there was so much misinformation floating around about this particular project that there was probably no way it would pass, with too many elected officials running scared, including two of the commissioners.”
For now, the villages and townships appear to be in a holding pattern when it comes to water and sewer. For Erford and Miller City, any and all other options for addressing the village’s sewer issue will remain on the table.
“We’re just looking out for what’s best for the village,” Erford said. “We have water and we have a school, but we can’t grow unless we get a sewer system.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.