Vicksburg water, sewer work ready to start

By Jef Rietsma

A once-in-a-generation sewer and water project in Vicksburg will begin in March. Most of the $11 million undertaking will center on replacing a main sewer line from an area at the northeast end of town to a lift station on Washington Street. The project also involves work from Washington Street to an area at the south end of Vicksburg.

Village Manager Jim Mallery said the impetus for the project was a 2015 grant program which provided funding for analyses of stormwater, asset management and wastewater improvements in Michigan communities.

A team of village officials took nearly three years to study Vicksburg’s sewer infrastructure, Mallery said. The original conclusion found more than $30 million worth of critical needs. Mallery said an additional 10 months of meetings with engineers followed.

“What we arrived at was this $11 million package,” he said. Of that, $9 million of the cost will focus on sewer-related infrastructure replacement and upgrades in other areas. The balance will be split between storm-water management and drinking water infrastructure.

“In the downtown district, there are two old water mains – I think one’s a six-inch and one’s a four-inch – and we’re taking the four-inch completely out of service and putting in an eight-inch,” he added. “We will have the opportunity to have second-floor residential with sprinklers because it will have the appropriate water pressure then.”

Vicksburg’s downtown infrastructure, which dates to the 1940s, is 16 to 20 feet under the center of Prairie Street, which means downtown will be closed to vehicles during the construction period.

Though there are some telltale signs of pre-construction engineering and some downtown tree-removal already has taken place, Mallery said residents will start seeing heavy equipment the first week of March. He expects the project will last up to 13 months.

Mallery said an inordinate amount of time went into planning this project and, consequently, nobody could fairly say they were blindsided by the start of the work.

The new project will allow flows from high growth areas on the west side of town to go directly from the Washington Street lift station through the interceptor to the Spruce Street lift station instead of putting additional stress on an older system running through neighborhoods on the south and east sides of Vicksburg.

The general contractor for the job is Allegan County-based Milbocker & Sons Inc.

Mallery urged residents to be patient and plan to follow detours to get from one side of town to the other. He said updates will be provided through the village’s social media sources.

“It’s the most substantial project the village has probably ever undertaken,” Mallery said. He noted that the project will be funded through a 40-year, low-interest loan.

Vicksburg plans to construct new road salt building

The old salt barn will be replaced.

By Jef Rietsma

Final details regarding a long-overdue public works building are being worked out by Vicksburg officials.
Village council members heard an update Feb. 1 from Village Manager Jim Mallery about a new road salt building to replace one built in the 1950s on North Main Street, just north of the railroad tracks.

Mallery said funding for the project started about three years ago, when the village began tucking away funds with the intent of eventually replacing the structure. He said an initial $100,000 was set aside in the 2018-19 fiscal year. Another $100,000 was added a year later. The fund now has close to $350,000.

“Our goal is to never take on debt on these types of projects,” he said, noting the low bid was a not-to-exceed amount of $355,000. The high bid came in at just over $426,000.

Alex Lee, director of community engagement, said the salt building has served the village well. However, Lee added, its doors are inoperable, and the approach to the building is worn down and as a result collects water. Also, there are a number of structural issues. Because of the problems, equipment is kept in an adjacent 60-by-100-foot building also showing its age, Lee said.

The cramped conditions often require workers to shuffle equipment and temporarily set it outdoors to access equipment needed for a specific task, Lee said.

“The small area that serves as the heated maintenance area for our crew doubles as the storage area for our vital plow and salt trucks,” he said. “Even using every square inch available leaves some very expensive and critical equipment exposed to the elements.”

Benefits of the new 6,000-square-foot building include improved energy efficiency, additional inside storage, and more resources to keep the DPW staff and equipment operating as effectively as possible.

DPW director Randy Schippers pointed out rain leaks into the existing salt storage building, causing salt to clump.

“We’ve got probably $50,000 to $75,000 worth of equipment and vehicles sitting outside,” Schippers said, adding an additional building would put the department “in excellent shape” and everything that should be inside would be under roof. “The existing barn, the back of it, is just costing us a fortune to heat.”

Council members ultimately approved a bid from Larry Mallory Pole Buildings not to exceed $355,000.

Mallery, noting he is not related to Larry Mallory, said the existing salt barn should be razed by the end of March. Work on its replacement is slated to begin by the end of April, Mallery said.

Vicksburg manager proud of village’s finances

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg’s solid financial status and commitment to its taxpayers were brought up frequently during a presentation to the Village Council by Manager Jim Mallery Jan. 18.

During the 21-minute talk, Mallery described a range of people and projects that have put Vicksburg in a comfortable place to be envied by other municipalities.

“A consistent goal of the Village Council throughout my tenure being village manager has been to be a steward of fiscal obligations and to guard our village millage rate with utmost importance,” he said, adding that in July 2019, Vicksburg for the first time in its history lowered its millage rate. The reduction was nearly one-half of a mill.

Over the past four-plus years, Mallery said, the Council has adhered to a list of clear goals and objectives, centering on sound financial management and complete transparency.

“As a municipal manager, I understand it’s not my job, nor your expectation, that I am liked. Instead, I’m charged with the responsibility to make decisions that put our village first, and that I provide this council with information and data so that the majority can set the policy that we, as staff, are charged with executing,” he said.

Mallery said he has come to the conclusion that the Village Council, sub-units of government and the public are beginning to recognize what can be accomplished when a community the size of Vicksburg operates under a best-practice model of government.

He said he is proud that the village in the current and past four fiscal-year budgets has not presented any additional general-fund debt obligations.

Mallery touted the village’s transparency, its website and how the website features a financial-transparency section. Every dollar the village has committed to ongoing projects and their individual status is shown.

Looking ahead to major infrastructure needs, Mallery zeroed in on the village’s aging sewer system, a major undertaking which council members need to put on their radar. Some parts of the system date to the early 1940s.

“It is imperative that we have the municipality in the best financial shape possible to address the anticipated and predictable upgrades needed to serve our village in the 2020s,” he said.
Mallery singled out key people in the village who help make Vicksburg a strong municipality. An emotional Mallery thanked his wife, Stephanie, before he recognized individually the roster of village staff members.
“I have never been more confident that we will reach our expectations as well as the goal we have placed before us,” he said. “The future is definitely very bright for the village of Vicksburg.”
In other action, council members approved recipients of a Business Relief Grant. Sponsored largely by the Vicksburg Community Foundation, the $40,000 pool provides financial assistance to specific-category businesses that have suffered a financial loss due to COVIID-19.
Fourteen recipients were identified, though not mentioned by name during the meeting.
Mallery called it “a very unique and great opportunity” to support local businesses. He noted three qualifying businesses deferred accepting funds and instead asked their potential share go to neighboring businesses. Checks were to be delivered by Jan. 22.
Also, the council approved the social district application for Distant Whistle. It is the fifth of five village businesses to be a part of the designated area in which businesses can offer outdoor seating and patrons are allowed to carry a cup of alcohol from one business to another.
Paperwork for final approval was to be sent to the state by the end of January.
Council members also approved a 2021 meeting schedule. The seven-member panel will continue to meet at 7 p.m. the first and third Mondays of the month. Exceptions are June, July, August and September, when the council will meet once monthly.
Aug. 16 was identified as a potential date for a community celebration.

Major 131 reconstruction coming to Schoolcraft

Look for construction signs on and near US-131 next year.

By Rob Peterson

Major reconstruction of US-131 through Schoolcraft is planned during 2022, if state finances permit. Village staff described the project to council members at a December meeting.

The project will begin at M219/Marcellus Road and run through town and up to the U Avenue/Shaver Road intersection north of the village limits. The project is intended to improve traffic flow and safety. Key elements include left turn signals at Lyon Street and a redesign of the way traffic enters 131 from Shaver Road.

The signal at 131 and U Avenue has already been updated as part of the project.

Other planned safety improvements include an extension of sidewalks and a reconstruction of the railroad intersection near South Street; a narrowing of some driveways leading on to the highway; and elimination of the southbound merge lane near U Avenue.

Council members asked Village Manager Cheri Lutz about providing windbreaks to prevent snow drifting across the highway. Lutz indicated that she would discuss the matter at her next meeting with Michigan Department of Transportation officials.

Since the center of 131 will be torn up, council member Kirk Bergland suggested it would be good timing to install a sewer main, if that project is approved.

Another report to the council came from Mike Presta from the engineering firm of Prein & Newhoff. He presented information about funds from the State of Michigan under a new Drinking Water Asset Management Grant program.

The grant will provide money for the Village to assess its water supply lines to determine where lead pipes exist, and to put together a plan for replacing them. The maximum grant for a community the size of Schoolcraft is $1 million, and it does not require a local match. The council authorized the staff to apply for the grant.

In other action, the council approved a “bonus” to staff amounting to 1.5% of each staff member’s salary. It also set the village garage sale dates for May 21 and 22, 2021.

The council also set aside approximately $2,000 to support Eagles Nest, an organization that provides food for families in need. In 2020, the organization provided food for 70 children in the Schoolcraft area, according to a report from Jill Strake. Village support comes in the form of quarterly payments that cover utilities.

Staff reported on the matching gift card program. The council purchased gift cards to area businesses and sold them to the public for half price. The purpose was to drive sales at local businesses at the end of a difficult year.

The Village sold 47 of the 66 available gift cards on the first day, selling out their inventory of cards from seven local businesses. Staff was grateful to the support that residents provided to local merchants.

Lutz reported that there is an opening on the Planning Commission. This is a vital position to fill, as the Village is in the final phase of a rezoning process. She asked any resident interested to contact her.

Christmas Card Lane to return in 2021

Alex Lee, Vicksburg’s Director of Community Engagement, displays the 2020 Christmas Card Lane.

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg officials are declaring the inaugural Christmas Card Lane a success.

In the absence of a parade and other Christmas traditions the village had to put on hold this year, Christmas Card Lane proved to be a hit – and a solid backup option.

Alex Lee, Vicksburg’s Director of Community Engagement, said there’s no question in his mind that he witnessed the start of a new Vicksburg tradition.

“Now that people have seen Christmas Card Lane, they understand what it involves, how it’s presented and what it’s all about. We now have a long list of people and businesses who want to be a part of this in 2021,” Lee said.

Set up in the Vicksburg Historic Village, Christmas Card Lane featured 34 “cards” that, in most cases, are mounted on 4-by-8-foot sheets of plywood. Sponsors were able to share their name and a design on their card.

Christmas Card Lane started Dec. 5 and was to continue through the first weekend in January. The cards could be viewed at any time and were set up in a drive-thru format.

Lee was part of the village’s three-person Christmas Committee, whose members also featured John DeBault and Natasha Hanichen. Lee said the feedback he’s seen via the village’s Facebook page has been overwhelmingly positive.

“When we started, the plan was a piece of plywood, everybody paints it, and then we put it up,” Lee said. “Feedback we started getting was some people didn’t have the time or the talent to paint, and they were asking if there was a quicker way to do this.”

Lee found The Sign Company of Kalamazoo, which introduced him to an aluminum composite panel with a high-density corrugated core called Alumilite. Images can be applied to the surface, which retains color that does not run or fade.

The panels were secured by a pipe bracket to metal poles and illuminated by spotlights.

Lee said the project was a great partnership between the village and the Vicksburg Historical Society. He said Christmas Card Lane would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Historical Society.

“I liked how they would turn on the lights inside the old buildings … it was a nice touch that just added something to the experience,” Lee said.

He said the village will store the panels during the offseason, though a few companies have asked to have theirs back for year-round display.

Lee added that DPW officials placed a traffic counter at the entrance and the total number of cars that passed through will be tallied when the display is taken down.

With more card entries expected next year, Lee said there’s a chance the cards will have to be displayed on both sides of the drive rather than along the passenger’s side as they were this season.

“We couldn’t be happier … the reaction has been tremendous and we look forward to another strong lineup in next year’s display,” Lee said.

Business survivability grants available to businesses

By Jef Rietsma

The village of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Community Foundation have partnered to distribute $40,000 to local businesses impacted by restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 virus.

Village Manager Jim Mallery at a Dec.21 meeting told council members about a business survivability grant, which creates financial assistance for businesses that meet eligibility criteria. Mallery said about two dozen potentially qualifying business have been made aware of the opportunity.

“We have made contact with businesses in the village that fit the (qualifying) categories and have held two Zoom calls educating them,” Mallery said. Grant-request forms were mailed to prospective recipients Dec. 22.

Village president Tim Frisbie called the program “an awesome opportunity” and said Vicksburg is fortunate to have such a strong and generous foundation. Mallery agreed and said the village also has strong owners who demonstrated great selflessness.

“I was pleasantly pleased at the character of our business community because I had three of the businesses that certainly met the criteria, all independent of one another, and spoke how their businesses had not been drastically impacted because of the amount of take-out food they’ve provided,” Mallery said. “And they wanted to see that money redistributed to those that would need it more.”

Prospective recipients have until Jan. 13 to return an application. Village council members will determine the beneficiaries during the council’s Jan. 18 meeting.

In other action, council members approved accepting an application from Jaspare’s Pizza to be a part of the village’s Social District. The concept allows participating businesses to offer outdoor seating and patrons are allowed to carry drinks in specially designated cups from one location to another.

The council expects to approve an application from Distant Whistle in January. If its application is approved by the village, five downtown businesses will comprise the Social District. Application approval by the village is a step forward in the process, as Mallery said the five businesses now must be approved by the state.

Mallery said the state has already approved the village resolution to have a social district.

“Most municipalities have found that submitting all (business) applications together are better,” he said. “I anticipate approval from the state by the end of January and we could start the formality of the Social District after that.”

In a separate matter, council members approved the third and fourth phases of the Allen Edwin residential development west of 22nd Street and south of U Avenue. Together, the phases will include development of 56 single-family homes.

Walk-throughs replace Vicksburg holiday parade

By Jef Rietsma

A beloved centerpiece to Vicksburg’s annual holiday season will be missing this year. With great reluctance, members of the village council voted Oct. 19 to cancel the 2020 Christmas parade.

Alex Lee, director of community engagement, delivered the news toward the conclusion of the meeting.

“The Christmas in the Village Committee has been meeting since late August. We have tried everything possible to delay an unpopular but necessary decision,” he said. “We tried to wait out the pandemic … with COVID-19 cases rising in the state and in the county, and in the shadow of some of our bigger cities in the county canceling holiday events, here we are with our backs against the wall in terms of time. The Christmas in the Village Committee feels for those reasons and for the safety of our citizens, we will be forced to cancel the Christmas parade and many of the activities usually associated with Christmas in the village.”

But there was a silver lining. Lee said the committee has assembled a series of events that will still celebrate the holiday season. He elaborated on what is being called “an outside-in Christmas in the Village.”

“What that means is we want families to enjoy activities in the safety of their vehicles or walking with family outside using masks and social distancing,” he added. “To that end, the committee has adopted an approach that we hope to kick off Dec. 5 and run through new year’s day.”

The alternate activities include a thorough decoration of the downtown district. Lee said float designers will be encouraged to devote their time and expertise to spruce up parks and public spaces. Also, a Christmas Card Lane concept will be recreated, running through the Historic Village. Prizes based on decorating will be awarded, Lee said.

In addition, the committee has discussed luminaries and would be willing to support neighborhoods or organizations willing to take on the task, he continued.

Council member Tim Frisbie said he understood the reasons why the parade is canceled but struggled to come to terms with its absence. Nonetheless, Frisbie said he supports the work of Lee and the committee.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who say, ‘It’s my choice to go downtown if I want, not a bureaucrat telling me I can’t go downtown and socialize with friends and family,” Frisbie said. “I understand from a village prospective but from a personal prospective, I don’t buy into it … if you’re afraid of a crowd, don’t come.”

Council member Gail Reisterer said the village has an obligation to responsibility. She said a parade would inevitably draw a large crowd and the village should not be behind an event that will encourage a large assembly.

Fellow council member Julie Merrill said she lives downtown and will miss the parade. Still, for the public’s safety, canceling the parade was a prudent course of action, she noted.

“We’ll just disperse and have fun in different ways,” Merrill said.

The council was unanimous in acknowledging Lee and the committee for their dedication to planning what they have arranged for Christmas 2020 in Vicksburg.

In other business, the status of a three-year contract renewal with the company managing Angel’s Crossing Golf Course was discussed as an agenda item. Village manager Jim Mallery said municipal officials and Hudsonville-based Renaissance Golf Management Group entered into a management agreement in March 2018.

He commended Renaissance’s Tom Ham and the staff, saying their work has exceeded expectations. Mallery said the years before the management agreement were marred by public complaints related to the conditions of the course, staff inattention and the concern about taxpayer dollars used to support the course.

“I’m happy to report that the village of Vicksburg has not used any general fund tax money to operate in any capacity Angel’s Crossing Golf Course since August 2016,” he said. “We developed and implemented a plan for the golf course, and have relentlessly reviewed the plan each of the past two years.”

He said Renaissance has not raised its management fees from the original proposal. Its fee for the three-year contract, however, will be $123,000 annually, representing a 6.9% increase from the original pact, Mallery said.

Mallery said the soonest the village could sell the golf course, if it felt the need to, is October 2023.

Also, Mallery said police chief Scott Sanderson in November will provide an update to the council regarding the department’s recent incorporation of patrol-car and body cameras.

Schoolcraft studies existing septic systems

An aerial view of a large sewage treatment plant.

By Rob Peterson

Just 61% of septic systems in the Village of Schoolcraft are known to meet requirements of a new septic system, village council members were told by two county representatives at an October meeting.

Vern Johnson and Lucas Pols from the county Health and Community Services joined the virtual meeting to present the information they have at the county level.

They said they do not have current records for over 100 properties in the village, partly because the microfiche created in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s did not capture the most relevant information. Address changes over time can complicate the records as well.

More recent records may also be inaccurate because homeowners are not required to report when a system is pumped, nor are they required to use the county’s services when a home inspection is completed.

A well-built and properly maintained system, according to Johnson, could last 30 years or more, though 20 years would be more typical.

But the primary concern, according to Johnson, is that 61%. Many homes are serviced by drywells, which do not treat the wastewater as completely as a drain field or trench. “We are learning more every day about how to improve sewage treatment systems for homes and businesses,” said Johnson.

When a drywell fails, the mess that it creates is not as alarming as the potential for contamination of the drinking water supply. Much of the village is in a Wellhead Protection Area, which protects the groundwater that serves the local municipal water system.

“Drywells and septic systems must be designed so that waste is fully treated in order to protect our drinking water supply,” said Johnson. He stated that this can become difficult when working on smaller lots in the village.

When an existing system fails, Johnson and Pols stated that they work with homeowners to create a solution in locations where an appropriate septic system cannot be installed. The worst-case scenario is an in-ground holding tank that requires routine pumping by a licensed hauler. But that is only a short-term solution.

The Village will continue to research the issue as it considers whether to install sewer lines. The South County Sewer Authority, who could provide sewage treatment for the Village, continues to meet virtually.

In other news, the Village Council reviewed a draft audit from the South County Fire Authority. The only material deficiency was caused by the fact that auditors created the financial statements rather than having an independent accountant create them. This is something council members felt could be remedied easily by hiring another firm to complete this task.

Village Manager Cheri Lutz indicated that she will be meeting with the village manager from Vicksburg to learn more about the Mill at Vicksburg project. This $80 million project will encompass over 400,000 square feet of commercial space and will impact the entire region. Lutz’s goal is to be proactive so that Schoolcraft can benefit from the development.

Lutz received approval from the council to implement a program to assist local merchants during the COVID quarantine. Her proposal is to sell gift cards that would be redeemable at local businesses. When a customer purchases a $25 gift card, the Village will match that with an additional $25 gift card to the same business.

Funds for the program will come from a $1,000 allocation in the promotions budget. The Village will promote the program via social media.

Vicksburg discusses alcohol on public properties

Outdoor seating at downtown Vicksburg’s Village Hide-A-Way.

By Rob Peterson

New state legislation that would allow alcoholic drinks to be served on public property was described to the Vicksburg Village Council by Manager Jim Mallery.

The legislation, which became law July 1, gives a municipality the authority to create a social district where patrons are allowed to consume drinks purchased from a local bar, restaurant or brewery. The law is intended to provide more space for social distancing and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Vicksburg could, for example, designate a site downtown “commons area” where patrons could carry alcoholic drinks from an establishment into a space shared with other businesses. Currently, each establishment must have its own fenced-off outdoor space for serving alcohol.

The law requires that the municipality have a management and maintenance plan, including hours of operation and clearly marked signage that defines the common area. The legislation is open as to how large the area may be, but it must be adjacent to at least two restaurants, bars or breweries.

The drinks must be in plastic containers clearly marked with both the name of the common area and the establishment that sold the drink. The drinks may not leave the common area, nor are they allowed in another restaurant, bar or brewery.

Director of Community Engagement Alex Lee indicated that the staff is researching other communities that have created similar districts. “When we have carefully reviewed all these inputs, have business support, and have a workable plan, we will present to the council for additional review and input,” he said.

In other action, the Village Council approved event requests at the Pavilion including Harvest Fest, which is currently still scheduled for Sunday, September 27.

Mallery updated the Council on the sale of excess village-owned property on TU Avenue. The property was originally purchased by the village as part of a larger tract for the trail extension, but only a portion of the original tract was required for the trail.

The Council supported staff in its efforts to apply for federal funds as part of the CARES economic assistance act. Mallery indicated that he is still looking into allowable uses of the funds, but its purpose is to assist with payroll for essential employees such as police and Department of Public Works staff.

Mallery also updated the Council on the new public parking lot on Kalamazoo Avenue, adjacent to the post office. The Village has installed solar lights and has plans for bike racks and “free parking” signs. There will be a ribbon cutting, but no date has been set.

Council member Adams commented on the need for two additional Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee members. He reminded attendees that July 22 was the last day one can apply to run for office in the fall election.

Council members took a moment to remember active community member Bob Merrill, who passed away recently.

Attendee Jackie Koney expressed gratitude to Village staff for allowing local businesses to adapt to social distance requirements due to Covid-19. Staff provided “curbside pickup” locations for businesses and made arrangements for village-owned picnic tables to be used in outdoor service areas.

Schoolcraft resets village clean-up day to Sept. 19

By Max Hutchison

The Schoolcraft Village Council at a July meeting rescheduled the village-wide Clean Up Day previously scheduled for June, to Saturday, September 19th, from 8 a.m.-noon. Residents can bring items to Clay Street across from the Ken Krum Recreation Center.

Details regarding what items residents may drop off can be found on the Village’s website or in the Summer 2020 newsletter.

The council’s meeting, its first since the lockdown in March, was its first-ever online session via Zoom. All members were present and visible in the conferencing app, along with several resident attendees. Also present was Johnathan Ballentine from the village’s information technology staff. While the virtual meeting was conducted largely in the same manner as the council’s in-person meetings, council members cast their votes using the Zoom app’s internal electronic voting tool.

Two budget items kicked off the meeting’s agenda. An amendment to the budget transferred funds to balance the budget. Revenues were higher than expected for the 2020 fiscal year, allowing the Village to shift funds without dipping into its general fund. “Really, we did pretty good,” said Finance Director Tammy Young. The Council also opted out of a state law which sets limits on contributions to employee medical benefit plans.

In an attempt to ensure the timeliness of the Village’s newsletter, the Council approved an expedited method for reviewing President Keith Gunnett’s standing article. Previously, the article was not subject to the Council’s oversight; the Council began reviewing it in October, 2019 when the viewpoints of council members diverged on the necessity, process, and costs associated with approving a village sanitary sewer system. While the process has since involved a month-long review by Council members, the new process will allow Village Manager Cheri Lutz to approve Gunnett’s article on shorter notice, raising issues with the full Council only when she identifies a potential issue.

Rounding out the agenda, Trustee John Stodola made known his desire to keep the Village active in the County’s Disaster Mitigation Plan with the pandemic in mind. “Things are profoundly different now than they were six months ago when we last got together,” Stodola commented. Lutz informed the Council that she had been in contact with the County, and a representative would soon be attending a village meeting to give the Council an update on the Disaster Mitigation Plan.

While the sanitary sewer project was not listed as an agenda item, it was briefly discussed in the council’s committee reports. Stodola remarked that a Wightman engineering consultant will be visiting the Council in the coming months to discuss an alternate proposal for the sewer plan. While Stodola was unsure of the details, he said he believes that the new plan will involve a sewer line running down Route 131 toward Kalamazoo. A longtime Wightman employee, Alan Smaka, who has advised the Village in the past, has since left the engineering firm to work as a project consultant for the South County Sewer Authority. Stodola also confirmed what had previously been discussed at Council meetings, that Vicksburg would not be joining Schoolcraft on a sewer project. Stodola did note, however, that Lockport Township has expressed interest in joining the project and would be discussing the possibility with the South County Sewer Authority going forward.