Polk County Commissioners last week okayed spending $2.1 million to buy a 10-acre plot of land to upgrade and expand services to its northeast water treatment plant and also approved a suggested plan to alleviate flooding in the Crooked Lake area.

The board also signed off on the appointment of two senior executives to oversee the county’s Fire and Emergency Services department and County Parole and Probation units.

Commissioners unanimously okayed spending the cash to buy 10 acres of land, owned by Barnum City Grove LLC, to expand the Northeast Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, which presently provides some 6 million gallons of fresh potable water.

Wade Allen, the manager of Polk County’s Real Estate department, told the board the land wasn’t coming cheap — but the purchase price was still below the present market value.

“The land is actually valued at about $2.5 million,” Allen explained.

He said the county’s staff had negotiated a slightly lower price, the $2.1 million okayed unanimously on August 20.

The land, officials earlier explained, sits adjacent to the plant and is presently a productive grove.

County Manager Bill Beasley told the board at last week’s agenda review session the plant is presently providing 6 million gallons of potable water per day and the growing northeast county’s demands would be increasing, so either the northeast plant had to be expanded or the county would have to look at building a whole new plant in the near term.

“This will let us go ahead and expand our existing facility rather than have to build a whole new plant,” he said, adding that the additional acreage would let the county expand the plant to produce 9 million gallons of water per day within a few years — and ultimately reach a 12 million gallons per day maximum output by 2027.

“The way growth is happening in the northeast, we will need to provide more and more services,” Beasley explained. “This is just one of those.”

The county is also planning to build a new county government services center to service the high-growth area, to the tune of $20 million, which will be borrowed using a line of credit, earlier reports indicated.

The $2.1 million will come from the utilities department capital improvement program in the 2019/2020 fiscal year.


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