Sale of undeveloped park land doesn’t muster enough votes

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A proposed waiver of the competitive bidding requirement to sell 35 acres of undeveloped park land for a possible $20 million water softening plant in the next few years did not have enough Franklin City Council members voting in the affirmative.

City Council Monday heard a first reading of a resolution to waive the requirement to sell the land known as Eichholz Park which is off Shaker Road in Franklin Twp. While the vote was 4-2 for passage, this particular type of legislation required five votes in the affirmative.

Law Director Donnette Fisher said the legislation will be reintroduced at council’s April 17 meeting.

Franklin’s city charter allows council to waive the requirement upon approval of five members. It also requires 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.

The legislation was originally tabled at the March 6 meeting so council could get some additional information from the Warren County Water & Sewer Department. On Monday, the legislation was brought back for consideration. Council’s Parks & Recreation Committee met on Nov. 21, 2016, and voted 3-0 to recommending that council sell this land to the county

City Manager Sonny 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.

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 10 acres of the parcel to Warren County Water & Sewer where a 5-million gallon water storage tank was constructed.

“It’s a long process and we’re not 100 percent sure yet,” said Chris Brausch, Warren County Water & Sewer director. “We have not done an exhaustive analysis of that site, but it is a strong potential site.”

Brausch said the county has been discussing the possibility building a water softening plant to reduce the hardness of the water that comes out of the Great Miami Buried Aquifer. He said the county began talking with Franklin late last year about purchasing the remaining acreage. Brausch also said the county commissioners have already given its approval to begin the design process for a 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.

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