Monday, September 04, 2000

Mason goes ahead with disputed tower

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Complaints by residents of a Deerfield Township neighborhood haven't stopped Mason officials from pursuing plans to build a water tower next to their homes, and apparently neither will a lawsuit filed by township trustees.

        City Council last Monday approved two contracts for the design and construction of a $2.5 million water tower on 6 acres the city owns on Mason Road. The contracts come about a month before city and township officials are scheduled to go to court over the land.

        Deerfield trustees filed a lawsuit last December in an attempt to appropriate the 6-acre parcel through eminent domain. Township officials made the move after several neighboring township residents complained that a water tower would devalue their property.

        A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 5 in Warren County Common Pleas Court. However, construction plans are proceeding to get the city on the contractors' waiting list, Mason officials say.

        “We feel confident that our case is strong and that we will prevail in court,” said City Manager Scot Lahrmer. “That's why we've decided to move forward at this point.”

        He added that both contracts contain provisions that would void them if the city were to lose the pending court case.

        Trustees said Mason's decision to pursue the water tower is no surprise and will not deter them from trying to block construction. The board said if it wins the case the township will use the land for a park or fire station.

        “There are alternate locations for that water tower inside the city of Mason that would be just as suitable,” Trustee Tom Raga said. ""If they are going to serve only Mason residents with it then they should keep their tower in Mason.”

        City officials estimate construction could take up to 18 months. The 2-million-gallon tower is designed to improve water pressure for the city's service area south of Tylersville and Stitt roads and reduce the demand on the Shaker Creek Aquifer to the north of the city.

        The Mason Road site is one of the highest spots in the area. Land elevation is critical in achieving maximum water pressure, city officials say. At a lower elevation, the height of the tower would need to be increased to provide adequate water pressure.

        “If we had to build the tower at a lower elevation, it would cost a lot more,” Public Utilities Superintendent Ernie Stickler said. “It could cost as much as $200,000 to build the tower just 20 feet (taller).”

        Mason Vice Mayor Jim Fox said the higher elevation directly affects water pressure.

        “The higher elevation will increase water pressure for some residents by 20 to 25 pounds per square inch,” Mr. Fox said. “That may not sound like much, but that's like the difference between turning on your shower and the water just dribbles out and turning on your shower and actually getting wet.”

        When the tower comes on line in 2002, four subdivisions — Greenbrier, Birchwood Farms, Sunset Ridge and Heritage Club — will be switched out of that service area and supplied with water from this new connection with Cincinnati Water Works, Mr. Lahrmer said.


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