Standing Between Vass and Its Future
C aught in an economic squeeze, the town of Vass now awaits another effort to solve its wastewater treatment capacity dilemma.
Vass sits at the crossroads of a prospective growth boom, with the Base Realignment Commission (BRAC) project spreading from Fort Bragg into neighboring counties. The small town at the juncture of U.S. 1 and Lobelia Road could well be a key to BRAC expansion into Moore County. Its proximity to the military reservation makes it an ideal place for residential growth, perhaps even business growth.
But the town cannot welcome more people without enlarging its wastewater treatment capacity.
Which is why the Moore County Board of Commissioners has authorized an engineering firm to prepare a grant application to the Rural Development agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A $1 million grant from the N.C. Rural Development Center is in jeopardy if matching funds cannot be found by an approaching deadline. The county has applied for a $2.7 million grant from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, a program raided last year when funds were desperately needed to balance the state budget.
Simply put, the trust is out of money.
The county has a plan, and a good one. It would build a wastewater collection system for transfer from Vass and Crystal Lake to a Southern Pines lift station for delivery into the county-owned treatment plant at Addor. Expensive though it may be to carry out, the proposal has potential to improve the environment, boost efficiency, solve part of the growth problem at Vass and eventually save money.
Vass relinquished its water and sewer systems to the county back in the days of Moore Water and Sewer Authority, now defunct. The town accepted no payment and was grateful for the authority's willingness to assume control of the facilities.
True, the acquisition has not been a money-maker. On the other hand, the small town could well become a money-maker if allowed to grow freely and rationally, something that cannot happen without sewer system improvement.
Earlier this year Vass town leaders made it clear that they're weary of what is perceived as foot-dragging. In their eyes, the county concentrates attention on Pinehurst, the county's customer base. It's no small irony that Pinehurst leaders have often complained that the county has not moved with dispatch in dealing with their utility issues. By comparison, they have little to complain about.
This is no time to delay an issue as vital to public health as the sewer system. It is time to send a message to the people of Vass that they are important as individuals as well as an important link in the county's future development.
County leaders appear to be exploring all funding avenues. Now we hope those engineers get cracking.
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