It'll be Hooper water, not Syracuse water for the 40 unincorporated residents living west of Syracuse near the North Davis Sewer District.
The residents recently voted 28-12 in favor of withdrawing their annexation proposal from Syracuse City in order to join the Hooper Water Improvement District instead.Guy Beazer, spokesman for the group of unincorporated residents, said that they met April 2 to take the vote. He indicated that the group is sad not to be a part of Syracuse but felt they were treated poorly by the city. He also said that the group is likely to fight any future annexation proposals in their area. Syracuse's master annexation plan includes the area, and so this could indefinitely halt any future plans for Syracuse City to expand on the west side.
Syracuse Mayor DeLore Thurgood has maintained that the city has treated the prospective residents fairly. He also believes that the group felt they were being treated like second-class citizens by Syracuse long before this water issue ever started.
Thurgood doesn't feel it is right to make current city residents foot the bill for the unincorporated water hookups. City cost estimates were $400,000 for four miles of water lines, with the city paying 70 percent of the cost and the unincorporated residents paying only 30 percent ($3,000 each over a 20-year period.)
Cost of water hookups was not the only issue. Syracuse would have had to obtain a loan from the Water Board, and so the 40 residents would not likely have had water until later this summer. Some of the residents are already desperate for water with wells running dry.
Hooper Water Improvement District will supply water hookups to the 40 residents at only $1,300 each, and construction will begin after an engineering study and legal descriptions.
Mayor Thurgood has questioned how Hooper Water District can afford such inexpensive water hookups. He wonders if all the customers served by the Hooper district won't end up paying bigger bills in the long run for the 40 remote connections.
Some Hooper residents are also concerned about the water district's aggressive expansion and believe that huge increases in their water bills are on the horizon because of service to customers more than four miles away from the town's boundaries. Hooper also provides water to parts of Kanesville and West Point.
Dan Trease, manager of the Hooper Water Improvement District, said that he is charging the 40 new customers the regular rate for new hookups. He said that the district already has a line very close to the residents, at 1700 South and 4000 West.
"We feel that our mission is to supply water to people who request water," Trease said, denying that he is providing the 40 new customers with any special price or that regular water customers will suffer any future increase in water bills, solely because of these or any new similar hookups.
Trease said that he received the group's petition for water connection on April 3. He also said that he has long been aware of the plight of the 40 residents needing water but that he has purposely avoiding doing any type of solicitation.
Hooper Water District serves about 1,600 customers in Hooper, West Point and the surrounding area.