The South Sewer Project groundbreaking last Friday was a big event for this community.
However, you would not know it by the absence of some prominent elected officials to an event that marks the potential resolution to an environmental and humanitarian crisis that has impacted Scott County for well over a decade.
Georgetown Mobile Estates is a mobile home park with some 500 residential lots. The majority of residents are Hispanic, mostly migrant workers. Years ago, the then owners of the complex lost the property to bankruptcy and since then several west coast financial institutions have taken over management. There have been attempts to sell the property, but the failing sewage treatment plants made a sale economically unlikely and the banks were unwilling to invest what was needed to rehabilitate the treatment plants.
Meanwhile, as has been well documented over the years by this newspaper, the failing sewage treatment plants were spilling raw sewage into Cane Run Creek, which eventually spills into Elkhorn Creek. Several studies on the creek’s water showed alarmingly high levels of fecal pollution. In addition, much of the sewage infrastructure beneath the mobile home park was beginning to fail, including connections to the individual trailers, allowing sewage to seep out directly beneath homes.
It became obvious there was no easy solution.
The City of Georgetown owns the nearest utility — Georgetown Municipal Water & Sewer System (GMWSS) — and connecting the mobile home park to the city’s sewage system eventually appeared as the only reasonable solution. But the mobile home park was located in Scott County — not the City of Georgetown — and utility lines did not do much beyond the city limits in that direction north of town.
The eventual solution was a massive $22.9m project that pulled together grants and financing from a multitude of sources, including federal, state and local governments and agencies. It is true, GMWSS and Georgetown used the opportunity of a low-interest loan offered by the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority to address the environmental problem to also expand and improve its sewer lines in the northern part of the city near where the eventual connections will be made.
But this was a big, big deal.
So, it is disappointing that so many elected officials chose not to attend and “celebrate” as Mayor Tom Prather said during his address.
To be fair this groundbreaking was on the Friday before fall break for Scott County schools. But it is hard not to contrast the huge turnout for Scott County Fiscal Court’s broadband announcement — organized by many Republicans -- when most of these same elected officials showed up en masse, to the tepid attendance to the South Sewer Project.
We certainly hope the decision not to attend had anything to do with partisan politics. Prather and Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, were gracious in sharing praise for help with everyone, regardless of political positions. State Rep. Phillip Pratt and Scott County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington, both Republicans were in attendance, but there were a lot of missing faces, including local, state and national officials.
The South Sewer Project is a huge success for Scott County and neighboring Fayette County. To make this happen required a a lot of help from many people and it is something of which every citizen should be proud. It is the kind of actions we should expect from our elected officials.
The South Sewer Project was not just a success by some Democrats, but the lack of Republican officials in attendance for the ground breaking certainly made it look that way.