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School retracts water request

2010-10-31T00:00:00Z 2010-10-31T14:13:41Z School retracts water requestBy ALLISON MAIER, Independent Record Helena Independent Record
October 31, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Warren Elementary School has temporarily withdrawn a request for the city of Helena to extend water services out to its York Road property, sensing skepticism from the city commission during a meeting earlier this week, said Community Development Director Sharon Haugen.

A public hearing over the matter had been scheduled for Monday night’s commission meeting, but the proposal will end up tabled if it’s no longer relevant. That looked to be its fate anyway.

The school came to the city a few years ago because the well supplying its water is failing. The most cost-effective way to address the issue was to abandon the well water supply and hook into the city’s water system instead. It was an unusual request because, generally, if city services are extended to a property, the idea is that it will ultimately be annexed as part of the city. At the moment, annexation isn’t practical for the area, Haugen said at a Wednesday administration meeting.

Another complicating factor was the fact that an option for funding the project would come from a county — rather than a city — Rural Improvement District.

The school lies about a mile north of the Missouri River water treatment facility, which falls within the city’s current water service area.

At the administrative meeting, the commissioners had voiced a range of concerns about the school’s request and discussed tabling it at their upcoming meeting to further consider the implications.

Commissioner Dan Ellison said the proposal went against the city’s annexation policies and extends services well beyond the border of the city’s limits. Commissioner Dick Thweatt expressed his frustration about a general lack of planning to handle the ways the district’s schools are filling up. Commissioner Paul Cartwright said the problem was less about water quality and more about a “fiscal failure” in the area’s infrastructure, while Mayor Jim Smith said he’d be more receptive to the idea if the city had received more cooperation from the county in handling water-related matters.

Reporter Allison Maier: 447-4075 or allison.maier@helenair.com 

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