SIDNEY — The city of Sidney is working to finalize a contract to purchase 113.392 acres of land to secure a new water source for an additional water well field for Sidney.
A resolution was passed by Sidney City Council Monday evening authorizing City Manager Mark Cundiff to enter into a real estate purchase agreement for the land situated in Washington Township that is connected to other city owned property also used for this purpose.
Council was also introduced to an ordinance to authorize increasing 2019 supplemental appropriations in the water reserve fund by $1,250,000 for the purchase of the property for the new water source.
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst told the Sidney Daily News the purchase of the 113.392 acres land may be the last piece of the puzzle the city needs to secure a long term water source.
“Last evening’s vote to purchase additional property in Washington Township provides the necessary well-protection area that should guarantee Sidney’s future for the next century and beyond,” Barhorst said in a statement about the water source.
Action on the two items were taken by council when members emerged from the executive session scheduled to discuss pending or imminent court action and the purchase of property for public purposes.
Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan was excused from participating in the session to avoid a conflict of interest as the land is currently owned by the Milligan family.
When considering the resolution to authorize Cundiff to enter into the purchase agreement for the land, council members briefly discussed the historic nature of the legislation, as it brought to a close the work of several decades to secure land for the development of a ground water source for the city.
Barhorst said he was aware Sidney had been looking for a water source for about 60 years, but recently realized the search had been going on much longer, for the past 100 years.
“I knew that the city had, over a long period of time, been looking for water, but did not realize until reading the ‘Out of the Past’ column in a recent edition of the Sidney Daily News that the search had been going on for more than a century. In case readers missed it, the item read: ‘The water supply for the city of Sidney is of some concern. Service Director Martin and Avery Hatfield, superintendent of the water works, spent yesterday afternoon in Troy inspecting the pumping equipment. There is some thought being given to drilling in the area of Port Jefferson and letting the water flow here by gravity. Port has a number of artesian wells.’”
He told the Daily News securing a water source was something he made a priority when he returned as mayor of Sidney in 2007. He recalled when serving as mayor of Sidney the first time, from 1987 to 1989, there was a severe drought in Ohio during the summer of 1988, which brought the city of Sidney within three days of shutting down industry for fear of running out of water for residents’ needs.
“One of the first questions I asked then City Manager Steve Stillwell was, ‘How’s the search for a water source going?’ His response was, ‘What search?’ The search resumed shortly after. Fortunately, one of the first locations we looked for water proved exciting,” Barhorst said.
Cundiff reiterated Barhorst’s assessment that the action taken by council is the last piece of property the city had been “attempting to get a hold of” to secure water for the city of Sidney.
Cundiff said since he returned to Sidney as city manager in 2012, he, Public Works Director/Assistant City Manager Gary Clough, and Law Director Jeffrey Amick, have been working on the water well field project to obtain this land.
Obtaining this land, he noted, will provide a consistent and reliable source of water, which is much harder to contaminate than river water.
“I remember the first or second summer when I was back (working for Sidney), it was very dry and we were within days of having to tell the industry (customers), who are heavy water users, that we might not be able to guarantee there will be enough water,” Cundiff recalled.
“Future generations will now be able to enjoy the ground water source. Because you just never know with the environment. So this is another economic development tool for the future,” Cundiff continued.
He said the development of the land is a long term project. Water wells will not be put in next year, but is on the agenda for the future.
Cundiff praised Sidney City Council members for the foresight and courage to make the significant investment for the future of Sidney. He expects the city to close the land on within the next 2 1/2 months.
The ordinance to authorize increasing 2019 supplemental appropriations will return for further consideration at the Sept. 9 regular meeting.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.