County Response on Water Expected Soon, Robbins Board Told
Moore County will soon respond to a counter-proposal from Robbins on a joint water venture.
The first meeting of the Robbins Town Board of the new year included a visit from County Commissioner Craig Kennedy, who lives in the northern part of Moore County.
“I am here on an unofficial visit,” Kennedy said. “This is just to thank you for your patience in negotiations we are going through with the water. I am going to give you an unofficial update from the county manager’s perspective.”
Robbins responded months ago to an initial proposal involving the county acquisition of the town’s large reservoir with an alternative plan involving a complete takeover of both water and sewer services and associated infrastructure: reservoir, long-closed water treatment plant, updated wastewater treatment plant, tanks, pipes and pumps — as opposed to just the water system.
At its last regular meeting before Mayor Ronnie English and Commissioner Kevin Stewart took their oaths of office, the town approved a contract for a preliminary engineering report studying three water supply plans. One would be to keep buying water from another county. A second would involve new wells and modern micro-processing systems to supply only town needs, and a third is the possibility of bringing water down from Randolph County.
Stewart had wanted to wait a month in hopes Robbins would hear back from the county, but he had not been sworn in at the time the contract was approved under the old business.
He had asked if the town attorney could be present at board meetings in the future, and Southern Pines attorney Doug Gill was present Thursday.
Kennedy outlined the state of things with respect to the county commissioners and water negotiations.
“The charge we put to the public works department (was) to look at all the options, including Robbins,” he said. “They have done that work, and the numbers are in hand. The county manager has instructed them to send that out to a third party to verify their numbers are correct as far as construction prices, water rates — those things. That should be back very quick.”
The commissioners are waiting to see verified costs and proposed rates before formulating its long-awaited response to Robbins.
“None of the commissioners have seen those numbers yet,” Kennedy said. “We will get those presented to us from the county staff at this retreat, which is coming up the end of next week. From there we should be making a decision soon.
“I hope we can come back and go full, board to board, with the town of Robbins in a public venue. You can get a response and will have the information. You can then begin making your decisions about how you want to go.”
Kennedy did not take any questions from the board.
“Again, I want to thank you for your patience. I really can’t answer any questions, but I look forward to working with you in the future,” he said.
This was English’s first regular meeting after taking office as mayor. His first act was to honor his predecessor, Theron Bell, and former commissioner Lynn Loy.
Neither was present for the meeting.
“They have other curricular activities that they are involved in,” English said.
A plaque bearing a gavel attested to Bell’s 18 years as commissioner, mayor pro tem and then mayor. Bell served as commissioner from December 1993 to December 2007, then as mayor pro tem for two years and finally as mayor of Robbins for four years. Loy served from August 2006 until his term ended last month. He was mayor pro tem for the past two years.
In other business, Tabernacle Methodist minister Mike Weber and Westmoore Pottery potter Mary Farrell pleaded with the board to find some way an 8-by-28-foot trailer could be parked near the Robbins Area Christian Ministry’s downtown thrift shop.
“Heavenly Treasures” collects donated clothing and makes it available at cheap prices to help low-income families. They get more than they need, and oftentimes what they get is unusable. A company will buy the extra items, and that income will help the nonprofit effort survive hard times and continue its work.
Present town rules don’t allow it, but board members told Weber and Farrell they hope they will be able to find some way to help. Farrell told the board they would fill the trailer over about a two month period and then the company would collect it and leave an empty in its place.
The board heard recommendations from Susan Eubanks, chairwoman of the Planning Board, regarding parking of trucks on a town-owned lot on Hemp Street. On a motion by Rocky Davis, the town will remove the present signs and start the process of rezoning that lot so truck parking could be permitted.
The board passed a resolution authorizing Town Manager George Hayfield to institute condemnation proceedings to acquire interest in an unopened — but designated — road in order to meet federal requirements where the new fire station is to be built.
The town actually owns the property, but condemnation process appeared to be the quickest way to handle the legalities.
The board approved petitioning the county to rename Sewer Plant Road as Plant Road and discussed rehabilitation of the mill pond.
At the end of the meeting, during the period for commmissioners’ comments, Davis told the board the town had qualified for a matching clean water grant of more than $1.5 million with the state paying 80 percent — but a Feb. 29 deadline would make it nearly impossible for the town to meet requirements.
“I don’t think we can get it,” Davis said. “We ranked really high.”
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
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