Sand Hills development needs sewer line extension

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OTHELLO — The future of Sand Hills subdivision is dependent on the ability of the city to extend a major sewer line north of Olympia Avenue.

Currently, the construction of 30 houses along the north side of Olympia Avenue between Seventh and 14th avenues is all that has been approved. Developer Angel Garza, who is also a member of the Othello City Council, has submitted a draft plan envisioning 248 lots, but he has also talked publicly about more than 280 homes in the Sand Hills subdivision as well.

“The next phase is 60 lots,” Garza told council members at a regular meeting Monday evening.

Garza, who had recused himself from council deliberation and votes on the project, said he could probably build about 25 homes a year once the city sewer is extended east from Broadway along Olympia and then north along Seventh Avenue.

“How much more can you build without the Olympia infrastructure?” asked Council member John Lallas.

“None,” Garza replied.

“That needs to be completed for future development,” Lallas said.

According to Development Director Anne Henning, the city is still working on a cost estimate and funding for the sewer extension, but hopes to start the project sometime in the next year or two.

“There’s already water there,” Henning told the Sun Tribune.

Garza, however, wrangled with council members over several change orders involved in the joint effort between the city and Garza to improve and complete Olympia Avenue from Seventh east to 14th.

The developer agreed to take responsibility for finishing the north half — including underground services, grading, paving, curbs and gutters — while the city bore the $490,000 cost of doing the south half.

The most contentious matter was a $5,700 change order to a budgeted amount of $9,000 for grinding the old asphalt on Olympia Avenue. Garza requested the additional payment for the cost of hauling away the ground-up asphalt surface of Olympia Avenue. The original plan had called for the asphalt to be used as fill underneath the reconstructed road.

“We look at the grinding product as an asset,” said Kurt Holland, an engineer with Varela & Associates who consults with the city on construction projects. “Since the north side has no base, that material would be used on the north.”

“As the city’s representatives, what’s your explanation for not using that on site?” Lallas asked Holland.

“I don’t know,” Holland said.

“They decided not to use it because of contamination,” Garza said. “I’m not making any money here. I already spent the five grand.”

The council voted unanimously to pay for half the hauling costs, and instructed both city officials overseeing the construction and Garza to communicate more clearly with each other.

“It’s as much our fault as theirs because we didn’t make it clear this isn’t what we wanted done with the material,” Lallas said.

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