Oak Harbor administrators won’t have to wait to determine if the village’s $9.2 million Church Street Improvement Project was worth the seven-year effort.
The huge project is nearing completion this summer, and has already resulted in reduced combined sewer overflows to the Portage River, decreased street flooding and fewer instances of water-in-basements.
“I certainly appreciate all of the cooperation of the residents. It was a long process and inconvenient at times, but these issues needed to be addressed,” said Administrator Randy Genzman.
The extensive project, which started in the design, research and funding stages in 2014, has come to fruition seven years later.
“This council, along with several village councils before it, took the initiative and pressure to see it through for the good of the community,” added Genzman. “And good it is.”
The sewer separation project replacing the village’s wastewater collection lines, some of which were originally built in the 1880s, will be completed in just days, not years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development awarded Oak Harbor more than $4.1 million in grant moneys, plus an
additional loan, for the improvements. Since July 2020, residents have accommodated road construction and downtown detours necessary to resolve significant inflow and filtration issues with the village’s combined wastewater and storm water collection systems.
Oak Harbor Mayor Quinton Babcock said the reduction of combined sewer overflows is a major goal for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Combined sewer systems, a type of sewer system that conveys both wastewater and rainwater to a wastewater treatment center, were previously considered best practice, due to the cost savings. However, during high rain events, these systems can create combined sewer overflows into nearby bodies of water. With the project’s addition of one Combined Sewer Overflow that works effectively, the cillage can, in turn, eliminate up to 10 other overflow points.
“This will contribute to improving the water quality of the Portage River and Lake Erie,” said Mayor Babcock.
The Church Street Improvement Project included installation of 10,342 feet of storm sewer pipe ranging in size from 15 inches up to 84 inches; 9,451 feet of sanitary sewer replacement; more than 9,000 feet of road drainage and 3,500 feet of 8-inch waterline replacement resulting in improved volume, pressure and fire protection. Additionally, 5-foot-wide sidewalks were added for active residents and increased parking opportunities for businesses, churches and homeowners.
After working with the design and engineering team at Jones and Henry Engineers, Ltd. of Toledo, the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development, the Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Department of Transportation, Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, Ohio Public Works Commission, Squire Patton Boggs, Ohio Water Development Authority and multiple funding agencies, the project has reached substantial completion with only a short list of minor tasks to complete before the end of July.
“This is a project that so many people can be proud of,” said Genzman. “The engineering firm, regulatory agencies, funding institutions, Helms & Sons Excavating, Apex Custom Concrete, Oglesby Concrete, Zimmerman/Griffin Paint Contractors, A&A Sign Company, Columbia Gas, village employees, Council members and the residents all had a hand in one of the largest infrastructure projects in our history.”
“I want to thank our residents, business owners, and the traveling public for joining us in this incredible step forward for our community and our ecosystem,” said Mayor Babcock. “Your patience and cooperation did not go unnoticed, and we are so grateful to serve the Oak Harbor community.”
For additional Village information, residents may visit the Facebook page, utilize the “Contact Us” form at oakharbor.oh.us, or call Oak Harbor Municipal Administrative Offices, 419-898-5561. Contact information for each council member is provided on the website, and Mayor Babcock may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Administrative Offices open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.