County council takes next step toward $10 million Uniontown wastewater project

The previously proposed wastewater project in Uniontown will continue to move forward as members of the county council unanimously voted to ensure funding would be available for Phase 1 of the project.

That action Wednesday morning confirming the availability of funds was required for the county to obtain a $1.4 million Regional Economic Acceleration Development Initiative grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. that will be used to assist with funding.

The estimated price tag for the first phase improvements at Interstate 65 and State Road 250 is set at $10 million with the council voting to have spending on the project exceed no more than $11 million.

The original cost of the first phase, according to a study conducted by HWC Engineering, was an estimated $11.2 million; however, the Jackson County Commissioners made reductions to the scope of the project in order to lower the cost to the target of $10 million.

The project is expected to be funded using the American Rescue Plan Act funds received by the county to help combat revenue losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic in the amount of $8.58 million as well the $1.4 million READI grant.

While the council’s vote ensures the funds will be available for the project, it does not ensure the county’s completion of it. It will still have the option to back out even after receiving the READI grant as long as the money is returned, said Craig Luedeman, a business development manager for HWC.

The goal of the project is to provide wastewater collection, treatment and disposal services to an underserved area on the east side of the county, ultimately attracting businesses and leading to economic development in the area.

“The whole idea of using funds for a sewer project has got to be right near the bottom of what looks like fun, but I think the committee more or less put together what was the big picture long term and how to spend resources wherever they come from from this county on something that pays forward,” council member Brian Thompson said in support of the project.

“The whole area, the quarter of I-65, is filling up,” he said. “That’s one of the last areas of the corridor that doesn’t have anything, so we’re putting this in a prime spot, and it’s more about the future of the county rather than just the immediate time.”

Jackson County Building Commissioner Conner Barnette told the council he receives a few calls a month to his office from potential businesses, largely truck stops, inquiring about potentially building in the area, but they are stopped by the lack of sanitary sewer.

Luedeman said construction is not expected to be competed on the project until 2025-26.