Salineville reluctantly signs BWD addendum

SALINEVILLE-Members of the Salineville Village Council reluctantly approved the signing of a addendum to a 2007 management agreement between the village and Buckeye Water District (BWD).

Council held a lengthy and spirited discussion on the subject during Monday’s council meeting. When all was said and done, members remained conflicted with some voting against the addendum, which will eventually give the water district the authority to use all village real estate related to the operation of the village water system.

The measure passed 4-2.

The addendum expands upon the terms of the 2007 management agreement between the village and BWD. The management agreement was signed under the administration of former Mayor Linda Beadnell when Buckeye took operational control of the village water system in 2007. In particular, the revised addendum addresses Buckeye’s recent use of the former village water treatment plant on state Route 39, west of the village.

Buckeye has been using the property in recent months to construct a water pipeline used for bulk water sales to R.E. Gas Development for $6.60 per 1,000 gallons. R.E. Gas Development is a subsidiary of REX Energy. In exchange for the use of the land, Buckeye, which acted as an intermediary between the village and R.E. Gas Development, agreed to pay the village $60,000.

In November of last year, members of the prior village council met with BWD District Manager Al DeAngelis and other representatives of the water district to discuss the bulk water sale project and the addendum. At this time, council voted to approve the project through a motion and work on the project has since begun. However, the former council members never voted to sign the addendum itself.

At Monday’s meeting, village solicitor Andy Beech presented council with a revised version of the addendum given to him by BWD attorney Fred Emmerling. Beech urged the council to reach a decision regarding the addendum, something which the prior council appeared to have put off doing.

Council members expressed concern regarding an incident that took place some time in December. On the day of the incident, Mayor Mary Smith called council members to the site of the BWD/R.E. Gas Development water line extension at the former village water treatment plant. Construction crews were attempting to place a 11-foot by 8-foot water tank inside a village-owned steel pole building at the plant. Council members intervened, forbidding the tank be placed inside the building. The council contends the use of the pole building for water tanks was never discussed.

“They didn’t fight it, they said they’d put everything outside,” said councilman Brian Tedeschi. “We’re still in a gray area where they still want to use the building if we OK it, but council doesn’t want them to have that building.”

According to council president Sally Keating, BWD representatives had assured members of the previous council – prior to the project beginning – that the building would only be used for storing materials and tools. She contended that BWD placing a large tank inside the building would be violating that verbal assurance. She expressed concern that allowing Buckeye to use the building might be a slippery slope to Buckeye “taking over” the entire former water treatment plant property.

“Everything else has been sold, given away, whatever-it’s the only thing we have left,” said Keating of the former water plant property. “Maybe somewhere down the road somebody would want to do something with that.”

Beech advised council the use of the building was specified in a map of the plant property attached to the addendum presented to the prior council in November. He questioned council as to what they were willing to let the water district use the building for and what they were not.

Council seemed to be of the opinion that using the building for the storage of small materials and tools was OK, but using the building to store a large tank was not. Beech told council if it does not want Buckeye to use the building in certain ways it will need to be specific in describing the acceptable uses in the revised addendum. He noted that Buckeye has already been given permission to “manage” any village real estate related to the operation of the village water system, including the water plant, when a prior village administration signed the management agreement in 2007.

“The management agreement was entered into pending the transfer of your water system over to Buckeye, at which point they will own everything,” said Beech, noting the transfer is expected to take place soon.

“Real estate includes buildings and whatever is attached to the land, so we have no argument about it,” said Councilmen Brian Zaverl. “It’s basically too late now to be horsing around with this.”

“You’ve already agreed to turn the water system over and get out of the water business,” agreed Beech. “That decision was made by a former council and we have to deal with that now.”

Legally bound by the actions of the previous village administrations, the current council made a motion to sign the revised addendum and enter into the agreement with Buckeye. When it came to authorizing someone to sign the addendum on council’s behalf, a role usually performed by the mayor, Smith declined, saying she wanted to “stay out of it,” adding “I don’t want you to authorize me to sign this, I want council to authorize their own.”

Councilman John Higgins was chosen to sign the agreement. Council members John Higgins, Tedeschi, Zaverl, and Nancy Needham voted in favor, while Jim Wilson and Keating voted against.