Water, Sewer Line Expansion Work Slated at The Highlands

Waterlines will be expanded at The Highlands in anticipation of another building being constructed there.

The Ohio County Development Authority on Tuesday approved bidding out the project, which would extend water infrastructure south of the Power Center area of the development.

County Administrator Greg Stewart provided members of the authority with an engineer’s map outlining the proposed project, and the drawing shows a future structure south of the Old Navy and Rue 21 stores.

“We have just enough interest (from future tenants) to start thinking about putting a building together,” Stewart said.

The infrastructure expansion project is expected to cost about $484,000, he added, but would largely be paid for through funds left over from a past infrastructure expansion project.

That project included construction of the water tower on the Straub Honda property, and the installation of 5 miles of waterline connecting the area with infrastructure near Wheeling Hospital.

The initial waterline project was funded by a $6.4 million federal Economic Development Administration grant, and the 20 percent needed for matching funds was provided through a loan from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council for $1.6 million, according to Stewart.

The project was expected to be completed for about $8 million, he said, but in the end actually cost $6.4 million – equal to the amount of the EDA grant.

“The EDA folks took back the $1 million balance left of the grant money, and they weren’t able to allow us to reutilize that allocation,” Stewart said. “But the infrastructure council loan money that was left totalled $316,086. Since we have to pay on the full balance of that note, we elected to use the full balance of that note for this project.”

A second option would have been to use the money to pay off the 20-year loan early – in 18 years, six months, according to Stewart.

“It’s 3-percent (interest),” he continued. “We would rather have the benefit of using the money today.”