The city of Roswell presented specifics about a proposed new water plant during two public meetings Monday, March 19; but some city residents expressed concerns, saying they were opposed to its location by Waller Park and questioning of the financing.
The city is proposing a $15.9 million new plant to replace an existing one that officials say is outdated and in need of costly repairs. By building a new plant, the city estimates saving $11.6 million over 20 years.
To finance the plant, the city proposes borrowing $14.5 million from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). An additional $1.3 million would come from money already set aside from water customer revenues. And a water rate increase of $1 per month is being considered for the city’s 14,500 residential and business customers, according to staff.
At the first of two public hearings Monday, about 25 people came out to ask questions and express concerns. The water plant’s proposed location, up the street from the current plant on Dobbs Drive, raised lively discussion among residents who expressed not “in my backyard” viewpoints.
It would ruin the aesthetics of ball fields located at Waller Park, according to one resident.
“As a [Roswell] resident and a water customer, I very much appreciate your efforts to expand water capacity. I’m very opposed to putting the water tank on that field,” said Seth Freedman.
However, staff say the location was chosen because it’s near Big Creek, where Roswell gets its water, and the elevation makes it more efficient to pump water to the treatment plant, said Dan Skalsky, an engineer who was hired by the city for the project.
Once the existing plant is torn down, new ball fields and parking would be added, he said.
Stuart Moring, director of the Public Works/Environmental Department for the city of Roswell, said the city’s parks department gave input and said there is a greater demand for rectangular fields, which would be provided.
The current plant is nearly 80 years old, and if it is not replaced, costly repairs will be passed along to water customers, city officials say. By building a new plant, the city will save about $460,000 a year on water currently purchased from Fulton County, realizing savings on plant repairs that could cost up to $1 million every few years.
One resident asked why the city doesn’t abandon water service and purchase all of its water from Fulton County.
That has been considered, Moring said, but Fulton County wasn’t interested and Roswell looks at a variety of sources for water, which grows scarcer every year in metro Atlanta. Beginning in the fall, .
Because of such conservation efforts, Roswell was designated a WaterFirst Community by the state’s Department of Community Affairs, making it eligible for a reduced interest rate on a proposed loan from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority – from 2.13 percent to 1.13 percent.
Lee Fleck, a Roswell resident who has water service with Fulton County, said he questions how the city will pay the difference between projected savings and the amount borrowed. He is worried the difference will be made up with tax dollars.
“That’s going to hit me in the pocket book,” he said. “I’m not going to pay to support the people that get their water from the city of Roswell.”
By city ordinance and policy, city water service is required to be self-sustaining from customer rates, according to Moring. (Editor's Note: We've revised this attribution from a previous statement, which attached the policy to a state law.)
None of the proposed options have been approved by the . A committee of the Roswell City Council will consider next steps at its meeting on April 10. The meeting is open to the public.
Roswell residents are also encouraged to contact the city with any questions or concerns.
What do you think of the city's proposed water plant?