In a special session Tuesday, Huntsville City Council tackled water and wastewater issues in underserved areas, and at least one man went away happy.

“I feel really good,” said Hill Street resident Nate Grigsby. “I really think this was a good step forward for the community.”

Grigsby’s family has for six years dealt with a raw sewage problem on their property. Because the city had never served his neighborhood with wastewater utility, Grigsby began asking for help more than a year ago.

During Tuesday’s meeting, city engineer Steve Stacy presented several options to fix the problem, one costing significantly more than the others but with worthwhile benefits.

The city chose an option for a gravity line that will cost $63,500 to service the Grigsby property for the time being. Also included in that option is wastewater service to Old Phelps Road that will run $130,500 and provide service to 20 homes. Both projects will run the city a total of $194,000.

The other realistic option presented was an immediate fix to the Grigsby sewage situation for $12,000 by means of a grinder pump. Although a quicker fix, the solution would only be temporary, and annual up-keep on that setup could become a hassle.

“The $12,000 solution would be quicker,” said city manager Kevin Evans. “But we’re trying to get away from a temporary fix and individual lift stations. With the $12,000 solution, with the upkeep and equipment replacement, you will physically be putting a headache in the ground.”

Evans noted $63,500 is intimidating, but more gratifying for the community in the long run.

“In my opinion, you’ve taken a great step in the future of your community,” Evans told councilmembers. “Wastewater is a huge issue, and I hope we can designate money each year and focus on getting a nice fund set up for this.”

The project could take up to six months to complete, as compared to the 90 days it would have taken with the lower-cost option. But Grigsby said he was just glad to have something to good to tell his wife when he returned home.

“When I first brought this to council, ... it was put on the back burner, and then today, I said “Thank the Lord,” Grigsby said, smiling. “I knew they were going to do something. I’ve lived with this over five years now, I can handle another year.”

Grigsby said he hopes the neighborhood he grew up in will now have the ability to grow with better city utilities. Evans said once the sewage issue is cleaned up, literally, it will be up to property owners to develop the small community on and around Hill Street.

“Today, council made a commitment to try and correct the issues with wastewater that has been out there, seemingly forever,” Evans said. “Wastewater is usually the most expensive utility (a city) can put in. It’s also the most harmful problem where health and safety are concerned. I think (the city) has made a great step, and I hope they stay committed to that every year on a financial basis.”



Also during Tuesday’s special session:

• Council will fund a water project for $200,000, providing city water utilities to the Moffett Springs and Interstate 45 area and North Sam Houston Avenue. The entire project will service 31 lots.

• In a work session held immediately following the meeting, councilmembers received results of the citizen survey conducted in 2005 on behalf of the city by Raymond Turco and Associates. The Item will run a full story on the results Sunday. Copies of the results are available at City Hall, 1212 Avenue M.

City Council will hold a retreat Friday and Saturday at Region VI to evaluate, discuss and prioritize goals and objectives for the city in preparation of the fiscal year budgeting process.

A public hearing for the planning and zoning commission is set Monday at 6 p.m. in Council chambers, and the next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Log onto http://ci.huntsville.tx.us/ for details.