Water Board Announces Special Called Meeting to Discuss Sale of Stealth Sewage Plant

July 3, 2019

File photo of "the Course at McLemore" from a PR release as helicopters dropped bridge segments into place at the refurbished golf course. Dade Water has been operating the Walker County golf course's sewer plant since the original developer bankrupted. After Monday, that may change...


Just when The Planet had pronounced the new county water board an anticlimax (see preceding article), that body has sprung into vigorous new life and leapt back into local headlines.


To wit: The brand-new governing board for the Dade Water Authority, which just met Tuesday to elect new officers and set a date for its regular meetings, moments ago announced a special called meeting for Monday, July 8.The purpose of the special called meeting, according to the agenda is, "Discussion and Possible Action on Sale of Property."


Jeff Pendergrass, who recently replaced Doug Anderton as general manager of Dade's independent nonprofit water company, did not mind parting with the information that the property in question was Dade's "stealth sewage plant" at the old Canyon Ridge development atop Lookout.


(Photo: Jeff Pendergrass (right) chats with board member Travis McDaniel.)


McLemore/Scenic Land LLC, the developer who is expanding and refurbishing Canyon Ridge's golf course--now rechristened "the Course at McLemore"--has made an offer on the sewer, said Pendergrass. The approach was made only Tuesday, said Pendergrass, and he agreed that the water board will probably be delighted to entertain any reasonable offer. "That's a money-losing proposition," he said of the sewer.


The sewer was built by agreement between the then-water board and a previous developer, Randy Baker, who built the golf course as the centerpiece of a luxury housing development originally called Tauqueta Falls. The developer needed a governmental entity to  partner with him to have the sewer permitted by the Environmental Protection Division, Dade Water was the supplier of water for the subdivision, and the then-board was eager to help.


When the housing market caved in in 2008-9, luxury housing developers all over Dade began crashing and burning, some more spectacularly than others. Baker and his Tauqueta Falls lasted longer than the others but they, in time, joined the majority. And the difference between that bankruptcy and all the others is that it left Dade County the proud owner of the Tauqueta Falls/Canyon Ridge sewer plant when (a) Dade was a rural county served only by septic tanks except in central Trenton and on a stretch of 299 at the I-59 exit; (b) most of Tauqueta Falls lay in Walker rather than Dade County; and (c) the Dade County Commission had never heard the first hint that Dade's water company was running a sewer plant in Walker County.


Ironically, it was the county commission's astonishment and displeasure at that news that led to the 2012 reshuffling of the water board, with Dade County Executive Ted Rumley installed at the head of the table as chairman to keep an eye on it. Now that a second reformation has been effected, one of the new board's first acts may well be to resolve the stealth issue once and for all.


The water company has been operating the golf course sewer plant since 2012.. Rumley at one point denied it lost the county much money, but assistant water company manager Sherri Walker at another indicated remuneration was hard to recoup from the operation. In any case, Pendergrass said Ms. Walker was getting the numbers and would present them Monday at the special called meeting.


The Monday meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the Dade Administrative Building.

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