Village may back out of sewer project

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Bellaire business owner Patrick Boyd was appointed to the Bellaire Village Council during last week’s monthly meeting.


BELLAIRE – The Bellaire Village Council may back out of a long-planned sewer system project after firing the engineering firm that supervised the effort. The decision was made during last week’s monthly Council meeting.   

According to Bellaire DPW Supervisor Bradley Keiser, the Village Council is, for now, "pausing" the project, undertaken in 2017 after a sewer and water study indicated the need for a number of small improvements and upgrades to the village's sewer system required by the Michigan DEQ.

"The Village Council had been unhappy with Fleis and VandenBrink, our former engineering firm, for some time," said Keiser after the meeting.

The sewer project had originally been scheduled to start last spring, and be completed by this December, he went on to explain.

"That didn't happen," Keiser said. "It took quite a while for the engineering firm to complete the preliminary work required for the project, and with the delay, the scope of the project kept getting smaller as costs kept going up."

In the meantime, bills from Fleis and VandenBrink – which the village has retained for a number of years – continued to pile up, all of which led to last week’s decision by Council to release the engineering firm from its services to the village.

According to Keiser, two other events during the sewer project delay led to the decision to consider walking away from it entirely.

"The DEQ dropped the mandate requiring the upgrades to our sewer system, then ordered all local governments in the state of Michigan with municipal water systems to undertake water line lead removal projects, a result of the 2016 situation in Flint," he said. "We have to start that project by 2021."

Plans are in place to meet with the USDA's Rural Development agency soon to discuss the $2 million loan the federal agency had awarded the village for the sewer project. Final paperwork for the loan has not yet been completed, and no payments have been made. Financing has also not yet been secured for the impending water line project, Keiser said.

Going forward, he noted that the village will be securing another engineering firm to review its options.

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Bellaire, MI 49615
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Bellaire, MI 49615

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