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Plan to Finish New Water Line

To their credit, officials in Steubenville have taken a long look into the proverbial gift horse’s mouth regarding a $100,000 state grant. Their decision to proceed with construction of a water line was not an easy one.

An important step in redeveloping the riverfront marina in Steubenville will be getting a water line to the site. State officials agreed to help with the $100,000 grant.

Unfortunately, that will not cover the entire cost of the project. For months, Steubenville council members have been debating whether it is wise to commit city funds for the work, in light of the need for an enormous amount of other work on the water system.

Contracting with a private company to lay the marina water line could cost about $187,000, City Engineer Mike Dolak has estimated. But it is possible the city could get a bit of a break on cost, by asking Jefferson County commissioners for help. County crews have both expertise in laying water lines and equipment to fuse sections of pipe.

Commissioners already have sought and received an opinion that it would be legal for them to help with the line — though they have not been asked formally to do so.

During their meeting this week, council members discussed the project at length. Their chief concern remains the appropriateness of spending municipal funds on a new water line when so many existing ones need repairs.

In the end, council members agreed to determine whether commissioners will assist with the project.

They should agree to do so, subject to legal constraints. Developing the marina will benefit the entire county, not just Steubenville.

Assuming an agreement can be reached between the city and the county, at least part of the line — however much can be paid for with the $100,000 grant — will be laid. What then?

Council members’ reluctance to commit to completing the project is understandable, even laudable, given Steubenville’s financial situation. But they should begin the process of setting aside money to finish the line, subject, of course, to unpleasant surprises regarding the existing water system.

Constructing a water line to nowhere — part, but not all of the way, to the marina — would not make sense.

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