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Sewer forum in Freeland brings out supporters

For the first time, it appears that somebody in Freeland wants sewers.

At a workshop meeting Saturday called to show off a county-funded sewer study, the majority of Freeland residents attending favored some type of sewer treatment facility for their town.

The meeting, which included question-and-answer sessions held in small groups at Trinity Lutheran Church, was presented by the engineering firm, Tetra Tech/KCM, Island County Planning and public works departments, and the Freeland Sub-Area Planning Committee.

In addition to the sessions, meeting attendees filled out questionnaires. Phil Bakke, Island County's planning director said answers on the 100 questionnaires turned in show a majority favoring a combination of a conventional gravity sewer system within the business district and a STEP system--where residents maintain their septic tanks while hooking up to a central treatment facility-- added later as needed in residential areas.

To start the meeting, engineers presented plans for five optional wastewater collection technologies: conventional gravity, pressure, small diameter gravity, vacuum and decentralized systems. The three most economically feasible options were listed on the questionnaire.

An engineering study being written by Tetra Tech is expected to be completed by the end of the year. It will offer water treatment and salt water outfall options. The estimated costs to homeowners of a sewer system will be discussed at that time.

The workshop included a Power Point presentation by engineers, followed by the small group sessions.

Bakke said the format was the most productive he has tried at a public meeting.

"It allowed more time for people to ask thoughtful questions," he said.

Several residents from Myrtle Street said they are supportive of a sewer system. Marilynn Abrahamson was among the most eager.

"I want it tomorrow. It will increase my property value," she said.

Others were not interested in paying for sewer service. Barbara Senior, who moved to Freeland from Phoenix, Ariz., for the rural lifestyle said a sewer system will not benefit her or her husband. The couple recently built a new home near Freeland Park.

"I am opposed to the sewer system primarily because it will contribute to the dense growth by the park, and our home," she said. "It appears that commercial property owners have the most to gain."

Senior conceded that progress is inevitable and to that end she would support a limited, decentralized sewer in the business district on Main Street.

Speaking about that area of town, Freeland businessman Mike Joselyn said a sewer system will benefit Freeland. It would allow downtown businesses to make better use of their space.

"Sewers would allow two-story businesses with retail and office space on the main floors and living units on the second story." he said.

The Freeland Sub-Area Planning Committee will discuss the questionaire results at is meeting on Feb. 20.

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