By DEVIN BEZEREDI
SALINEVILLE - Village Council members last week voiced their displeasure at the Buckeye Water District, although it appears the village has little recourse.
Specifically, council member are unhappy that the BWD is continuing to use the steel storage building and other areas at the former village water treatment plant.
Councilman Jim Howdershelt spoke with Al DeAngelis, the district's manager, who said the BWD is permitted to use the property due to a management agreement signed by the two entities in 2007.
Councilman Rick Beadle said since the plant had been closed and was no longer part of the village water system, it should no longer be used by the BWD.
However, the management agreement specifically states the village designated BWD as the manager of its treatment facility and distribution system. Council perceived this as essentially giving Buckeye indefinite use of the water treatment facility.
In a letter to Howdershelt, DeAngelis said the BWD uses the closed facility "for storage of material and equipment so that the distribution employees would not have to travel to Wellsville and then back to Salineville thus saving time and gas."
There was disagreement among council as to which village administration presided over the contract with BWD, Dave Berta's or Suzanne Scary's, although the majority of members agreed the agreement misled council at the time.
"It doesn't matter who voted it in. The fact is that this is not what that council understood," Beadle said. "The council was buffaloed into doing this."
Later, Beadle said, " In my opinion, the way that letter reads and the way they're reading the management agreement, they're acting like their going to use our plant building and utilize our storage facility indefinitely."
Village Solicitor Andy Beech was succinct on the matter.
"The agreement says what it says and you have a copy of it," the attorney said. "If council approved it, this council is bound by anything prior councils have done. Whether or not you sat on it (the council), you're bound by it."
When questioned by council members as to what village property falls under Buckeye's control, Beech replied: "Typically what you do when you transfer your water system, you transfer all your water assets, your plant, your waterlines - everything."
Various courses of action to resolve the issue were discussed.
Mayor Mary Smith pointed out the end of DeAngelis' letter invited council to set up a meeting with the BWD and suggested council take advantage of the offer.
Howdershelt insisted that Buckeye did not want the media at the meeting. Council disagreed stating the media should be at the meeting.
When the discussion of what should be done to prevent Buckeye from indefinitely using the facility playfully drifted into suggestions of bulldozing the bridge to the facility, Mayor Smith halted the conversation, citing a need for the village to have a good relationship with the company that manages their water system.
"This is getting out of hand. We're supposed to be working with departments, not fighting with them," she said.
Councilman Zeb Locklear, chairmen of council's properties committee, set a meeting of the committee to discuss for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4. The regular council meeting will be held after that.