Installing sewers along state Route 193 in Liberty and Vienna sheds light on two important issues - that long-term planning has an important payoff and that the Ohio EPA continues to wield an overly heavy-handed ax.
A sanitary sewer on 193, from Crews Hood Road north to Squaw Creek Country Club, is ready for final testing. The ball is now rolling to extend from Squaw Creek to near the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
The main stimulus for this sewer is to get rid of faulty septic systems that pollute the ground and local waterways. But nobody should discount the impact a project like this has on economic development.
One of Trumbull County's roadblocks to prosperity is its lack of basic services - water and sewer - for potential homeowners and businesses. Slowly but surely Trumbull County leaders are chipping away at this deficiency. A small flurry of development - residential and commercial - on 193 from Churchill Road to Tibbetts-Wick Road is evidence that the investment has a payoff.
We acknowledge that with so many vacated properties throughout the Mahoning Valley, building new should not be the first choice. But for some, investing in green space is more practical. Liberty, Vienna and Trumbull County leaders were wise to prep this mostly undeveloped stretch for economic growth.
There's another angle to this story. The Ohio EPA wants the Mathews Board of Education to replace a faulty septic system at its high school. This will cost $140,000 this year. In two years, when the sewers are extended from Squaw Creek to the airport, Mathews High School will have to pay thousands of dollars to connect, then as much as tens of thousands of dollars to remove the new septic system.
This scenario has been repeated throughout Trumbull County, mostly on residential property. The economic benefit of new sewers gets negated when a community is forced to spend so much money for something that gets destroyed a short time later. Now the EPA's overzealous enforcement is interfering with education. Surely the Mathews Board of Education, if allowed, could spend $150,000 or so on something with educational value.
We would like to see more leaders, including the Mathews Board of Education, defy the EPA's ruling and take a chance that common sense would prevail in court. And we'd like to see our state representatives and county leaders more visibly defend Trumbull from what appears to be an assault from the EPA.