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2017-08-02 / Front Page

County seeks city land for water pump

BY JIM McCONNELL STAFF WRITER

In the face of vehement citizen opposition, Richmond City Council could kill Mayor Levar Stoney’s proposal to lease land in a city-owned park to Chesterfield for construction of a new water tank and pumping station.

Kristen Larson, councilwoman from the city’s 4th District, told the Observer in a recent interview that she has received “a ton of feedback” from both Richmond and North Chesterfield residents who object to the pending agreement.

“My community has a lot of heartburn with this,” she said. “I don’t have any issue with working with Chesterfield or selling them water. The heartburn is over the location.”

Stoney needs approval from a majority of the nine-member City Council to lease the county 1.3 acres of land in Lewis G. Larus Park, a 106-acre park located at the intersection of Huguenot and Stony Point roads, for $1 annually.

The Board of Supervisors signed off in April on the agreement, under which Chesterfield would spend $7.5 million to build a 2 million gallon watertank and pumping station adjacent to the city’s existing water pumping facility in Larus Park. The county also would install more than four miles of transmission line along Huguenot Road to carry water from the pumping station into northern Chesterfield, where new residential and commercial development has created additional demand.

All told, the project is expected to cost the county about $22 million.

“Water supply is a regional issue and we are continually working with our neighbors both to the north and the south to ensure that Chesterfield has an adequate water supply for both now and the future,” said Dorothy Jaeckle, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors.

Richmond has been one of Chesterfield’s three drinking water sources since 1989. The county currently purchases 27 million gallons of water from the city daily. It also gets water from the Swift Creek Reservoir and Lake Chesdin.

George Hayes, director of Chesterfield’s Utilities Department, said city and county officials have worked hard to put together a “mutually beneficial project.”

The agreement would provide about $1.3 million in annual revenue for Richmond, Hayes noted, since the county intends to purchase an additional 5 million gallons of city water per day.

Chesterfield has committed to replace any trees it clears to create space for construction of the pumping station and water tank, as well as build a 10-space parking lot for visitors to Larus Park.

The county also would spend more than $1 million to install a water transmission line and significantly improve water pressure to city homes and businesses around the park.

Hayes suggested that building the new pumping station next to the city’s facility in Larus Park is optimal because it will provide “redundancy” for both localities’ water transmission networks.

“There is a limited area where we can put the pumping station and still accomplish our objectives,” he added.

That has done little to quell opposition from citizens concerned about using even a small part of Larus Park for the proposed utilities project.

City officials have held three community meetings about the issue. Larson also has received numerous calls and emails from city and county residents imploring her to protect the park.

“We have a lot of park land in the 4th District. It’s a treasure and we’re protective of it, as we should be,” she said.

The city’s land use committee was scheduled to discuss the Larus Park project at its July 18 meeting, but the agenda item was deferred until September to give city officials time to consider alternate sites.

According to Larson, they will know more in the coming weeks about whether the pumping station and water tank can be relocated without compromising the agreement with Chesterfield.

“I hope the people who are experts in this area will be looking at all options and listening to citizen feedback,” she said. ¦

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