Hilliard plans to annex Homestead Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, into Norwich Township in order to provide water and sewer services to the park that Washington Township owns and operates.

Hilliard plans to annex Homestead Park, 4675 Cosgray Road, into Norwich Township in order to provide water and sewer services to the park that Washington Township owns and operates.

Washington Township sought the annexation after officials learned from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that water wells at the park tested positive for contamination.

Washington Township Trustee Denise King attended the May 13 meeting of the City Planning, Projects and Services Committee of Hilliard City Council, where Public-Services Director Butch Seidle explained the proposal.

Washington Township faced orders from the EPA, including fines, for fecal matter discovered in water wells at the park and the township considered it in its best interest to receive water service rather than dig new wells, thus requiring annexation, Seidle said.

Homestead Park currently has no water service. Washington Township shut off all access to public water at the park May 1 and is seeking to fix the problem in the timeliest manner possible, King said.

She said the township received no reports of anyone being sickened.

Washington Township was made aware of the well contamination via a Feb. 6 letter but it is believed the contamination was first indicated during a required test Oct. 23, King said.

"We would have liked to known sooner," said King, adding that the township staff performed the mandated testing in October and was aware of the initial positive test.

The Feb. 6 letter to the township indicated the wells had failed an inflow and infiltration test in October.

Additional tests are required after a positive test; some of those were negative, King said.

As recently as last week, a test for well contamination came back negative, but the township decided to seek a permanent solution.

"Numerous tests have shown that sometimes there is a problem, sometimes not. ... Still, we wanted to be proactive and not take a chance," King said.

Washington Township trustees met May 14 and approved a resolution supporting the annexation of Homestead Park into Hilliard.

After the annexation, Hilliard will not assume control of the park; Washington Township will continue to own and operate it.

"It has a long-term benefit for us, too," said Seidle, because along with the park, the city will annex 30 feet of additional right of way along a 1,600-foot stretch of Cosgray Road.

The right of way would allow Hilliard to widen Cosgray Road and give the city the authority to control the speed limit, Seidle said. Unlike townships, municipalities can set speed limits.

"We would love to be able to (lower) the speed limit on Cosgray Road," Seidle said.

Hilliard will waive its capacity fees and tap fees for installing water lines to service the park in exchange for the additional right of way. Seidle estimated the value of the capacity fees at about $10,000 and the value of the right of way at $20,000.

"It makes sense for us to work with Washington Township to solve this health problem," Seidle said.

He said the city will use the opportunity to annex property from other owners to create more congruent boundaries

The city will annex 2 acres from the 124-acre parcel the Hilliard school board is in contract with to sell to Rockford Homes. The district bought the 124-acre site in 2003, but 2 acres inadvertently were left in Norwich Township when 122 acres was annexed into Hilliard.

The city also will provide the opportunity for two other private-property owners in Norwich Township adjacent to the park to annex into Hilliard.

The annexation of Homestead Park and the 2-acre parcel the district owns will go forward, regardless of the decision of either private-property owner, Seidle said.

King said Washington Township considers annexation and the provision of water service to the facility as the preferred alternative to giving residents the best possible services.

"We want to provide the best service we can and this can be accomplished by extending a water line," King said. "We are committed to providing great service and our time frame (to fix the problem) is far more aggressive than any time frame the EPA has suggested."

King was not a Washington Township trustee when the land was acquired to open Homestead Park, but said it was purchased with proceeds from estate taxes and that it was likely the Norwich Township parcel best suited the needs of Washington Township at the time, about 1996.

At the regular Hilliard City Council meeting following the committee meeting, Council members adopted a resolution of support for the annexation.

A companion ordinance authorizing the city to waive capacity and water tap fees for Washington Township was introduced May 13.

It is scheduled for a second reading and public hearing June 10.