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Bel Air, John Carroll sewer line, turf fields project gets final OK

The John Carroll School has plans to install two turf fields, including one at Gerry Gray Memorial Field, above, and on an adjacent field. After weeks of talks between school and town of Bel Air officials, the town approved a contract Monday to move its sewer main running under the fields.
The John Carroll School has plans to install two turf fields, including one at Gerry Gray Memorial Field, above, and on an adjacent field. After weeks of talks between school and town of Bel Air officials, the town approved a contract Monday to move its sewer main running under the fields. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS FILE PHOTO, The Aegis)

The Bel Air town commissioners unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding and financing resolution Monday that will allow construction work to commence on two new athletic fields at The John Carroll School and a replacement municipal sewer main.

Town and school officials have been negotiating since mid-summer over the school's athletic field replacement project, which will be done over a 15-inch main that has been buried under the field since an easement was granted by the then-property owners in 1934, 30 years before John Carroll opened.

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Officials with both parties have been concerned about the risk of a sewer line rupture during the installation of the synthetic turf fields, and the memorandum of agreement solidifies town and school plans to convey the current sewer line and its easement to the school, and for the town to build a new line that crosses under John Carroll property.

Town Administrator James Fielder told the commissioners during their Monday evening meeting town officials have worked with John Carroll leaders and Archbishop of Baltimore William E. Lori, and both have given their approvals.

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"All fees have been received, all permits have been approved, and the memorandum of understanding is the piece that puts into motion the construction period," Fielder said.

The town and the school will evenly split the projected construction costs of $169,802 to install the new sewer line, according to the MOU, and school officials must still determine if they will cover their $84,901 portion with cash or financing through the town.

Construction work is expected to take six weeks, according to the agreement.

The school must begin work on the fields no later than Monday, but no installation can take place over the existing sewer line until the town has installed a bypass pump, according to the MOU.

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Town Finance Director Lisa Moody presented Resolution 1038-14, which allows Bel Air officials to reimburse up to $600,000 in expenses through tax-exempt financing for a previously-approved contract with Insituform Technologies LLC of Chester, Pa., which is worth $303,729, for sewer system repairs in the Bradford Heights and Shamrock Development communities, as well as the $169,802 contract with Comer Construction Inc. of Forest Hill to install the new sewer main at John Carroll and funds for continued inspections of portions of the town's sewer system using television equipment.

Tax-exempt financing allows communities to borrow funds for capital projects at a low interest rate.

Moody noted the John Carroll project is time sensitive, and that work will proceed before the tax-exempt financing is secured.

"It's important to have this resolution in place in order to enable the town to be reimbursed from those tax-exempt proceeds," she told the commissioners.

The commissioners approved the resolution unanimously.

Moody also said the full amount for the John Carroll project is included in the resolution because school officials must still determine if they want to cover their half with an up-front payment or financing through the town.

Town officials must approve a separate loan agreement if the school goes with financing, according to the MOU.

Commissioner Susan Burdette and Mayor Robert Reier praised Fielder, Moody and Public Works Director Steve Kline for working with the school and the archdiocese, and for keeping the town commissioners informed during the negotiation process.

"I really thank you for making it such a clear process," Burdette said.

Reier echoed her comments.

"I know it's been kind of a challenging and arduous process at times, but [it has] always been congenial and both parties have worked to get this across the goal line, so kudos to everybody," he said.

Fielder praised officials with the school and the Baltimore archdiocese for working with the town.

"We're pleased to participate with them," he said.

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