Since then the Village has been working with the USDA to get a better handle on the specific requirements of the funding if the project moves forward. The primary area of concern on the part of the Village was the initial direction of the USDA stressing the need for the Village to obtain easements from all existing users in the proposed project for their future connection to the system.
In discussing this requirement with out engineers, the Village quickly came to the position that such a request was unrealistic, and rather that the obligation to obtain the easement for maintaining the on-site tank and pump should be a concern only when existing users connect to the proposed system.
In our meeting last week, the USDA staff agreed to the Village's position, and also strongly encouraged us to complete the remaining items from our letter of funding eligible due to the few projects currently being considered state-wide. This lack of interest in USDA funding from other projects may make the Village's application score better when it comes time to actually allocate funding if the project moves forward. With funding of this nature the higher score a project has, the more options it opens up to the project in terms of grants, and the interest rate on the loan component of the funding.
There are three items outstanding from the letter of funding eligibility. Those three are to complete the Preliminary Environmental Report (PRE), conduct a General Public Meeting, and complete a draft engineering agreement.
Presently the Village has enlisted the help and services of the Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP) to complete the PRE. This is being done at no cost to the Village. Rowe PSC is working on completing the draft engineering agreement and also revising our application to reflect the discussion from last week's meeting. Lastly, the Village is reviewing dates in late February or early March to conduct the General Public Meeting.
Even after these are completed and submitted the Village is in no manner obligated to move forward with the project. The Village's efforts are focused on presenting the most complete proposal to the property owners in Lake Isabella South and Lake Isabella Golf Estates 2 for their consideration. Ultimately it will be those property owners that would be directly impacted by this project which determine if it continues. Until then, the Village will continue to work towards finding the most feasible solution to this decades old problem.