After a few mea culpas from the city manager and others, Franklin City Council had more than enough votes to waive competitive bidding to sell about 35 acres of unused park land to Warren County Water & Sewer for a possible $20 million water softening plant.
While a majority of council voted April 3 to adopt the resolution, this particular type of legislation required five affirmative votes for passage according to Franklin’s city charter. However, because it lacked a fifth affirmative vote, the first reading of a resolution was brought back April 17 for consideration. Four council members voted yes, two voted against, and one councilman was absent from that meeting.
“I should have caught that,” said City Manager Sonny Lewis about having to bring the resolution back to council.
“I felt this was an unusual situation and that this needed to be re-voted,” said Mayor Denny Centers. He also said he believes the city should work with the county.
At the most recent meeting, Councilman Brent Centers changed his vote and Councilman Michael Aldridge, who was not at the previous meeting voted in favor with council’s four other members of the resolution. Councilman Paul Ruppert did not change his no vote.
“I was against this but I’m changing my vote because if we ever wanted have that area annexed, we would not be able to put in city water and sewer,” said Brent Centers.
Aldridge said it was “a landlocked piece of land in the township.” He said it would be in the best interest for the city to earmark sales proceeds for future park improvements.
Lewis said the land was appraised at $283,150 which will be the selling price. He said the proceeds from the land sale would go into a capital improvements fund for the future expansion of Community Park.
The land is located off Shaker Road in Franklin Twp. and is known as Eichholz Park. Lewis said the original 45-acre parcel was donated to the city in 1986 for a future park, but the city never developed the site for a park. In 1994, the city sold several acres of the parcel to Warren County Water & Sewer where a 5-million gallon water storage tank was constructed.
The resolution will allow council to give notice of its intent to dispense with the requirement by publication and reading at two consecutive meetings. A separate ordinance authorizing the sale of the land would be introduced for council’s approval in June, according to Law Director Donnette Fisher.
Chris Brausch, Warren County Water & Sewer Director, said no decision has been made yet as they still need to do more analysis of that site. Warren County Commissioners have approved beginning the design process for the plant. If the county decides to move forward, Brausch said construction could take about two years to build the plant which would cost in the $20 million range and would be able to soften about 15 million gallons of water a day.