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 Town loses $150,000 grant

Liz babiarz
Frederick News-Post

10/15/2004 - After three failed attempts to develop a water treatment system, Woodsboro has struck out on an opportunity for state funding.

Woodsboro had to relinquish a $150,000 grant to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) because its plan for a new water system did not meet state requirements.

Last year, MDE awarded Woodsboro a $150,000 grant so thetown could enhance its water treatment system.

The town hired Arro Consulting, Inc., an engineering firm based in Hagerstown, to design a filtration system. However, Arro's design had a price tag of $600,000, which town officials said was too expensive. The idea was abandoned.

Then, town officials decided to drill for water that could be used to bring new supply wells online. But, after drilling in four spots in the eastern part of the town, they were unable to find water, so that idea was abandoned as well.

Finally, Woodsboro looked into a system that would control fivewells based on the elevation levels in two water storage tanks. The town also wanted to install generators on the wells to keep them pumping water.

But after reviewing the proposal, MDE said the plan was not "within the project scope for which the Board of Public Works approved the $150,000 grant funds."

"You can't use the money that way," said Richard McIntire, spokesman for MDE. "It would be a violation of state law."

MDE has since taken back the grant from the town.

And even though the projectwon't be completed, the town owes Arro Consulting, Inc., about $25,000 for its engineering work.

That news came as a surprise to Commissioner Dennis Kline.

"It was my understanding when we were going through this, that (the engineering work) was going to be covered by the grant," Mr. Kline said at Woodsboro's monthly meeting Tuesday night.

In actuality, the grant money can only be used on construction costs; the funds do not cover design and engineering work, according to Mr. McIntire.

Burgess Donald Trimmer said he isn't upset by the problems thetown has encountered on the project. He and the other commissioners will be rethinking how to secure grants and loan funding for these improvements in the future.

"We actually have good water, and we have plenty of it," Mr. Trimmer said. " ... We're just trying to get one step ahead of the game, and not wait until we faced with a dilemma."

The $150,000 grant was the second grant from MDE the town received last year. Woodsboro was first awarded a $2.9 million grant for a new wastewater treatment plant, which came online in April.

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