Localities discuss further cooperation

Published 9:32 am Friday, July 23, 2010

FRANKLIN—Officials from Southampton and Isle of Wight counties met with their counterparts from the City of Franklin on Wednesday “to discuss ways that the three localities can cooperate further on important issues.”

Southampton officials told the group that the Courtland Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on Old Bridge Road just south of Courtland, went online on July 12. The expanded wastewater treatment system, which cost $26.6 million, has the capacity to handle 1.25 million gallons of wastewater a day and is currently receiving between 260,000 and 270,000 gallons.

“We’ve got plenty of room for our growth,” Southampton County Administrator Mike Johnson said. “We’ve got some room to accommodate some of (Franklin and Isle of Wight’s) needs now, but certainly not all of it. I think the question we need to look at, if we were going to serve as a regional hub, is does it make sense to (expand the system) to 2.5 million gallons.”

Johnson added that within the next nine to 12 months a sewer line would be extended to the Turner Tract industrial site.

Franklin City Manager June Fleming said the city would need to study the concept of joining with Southampton and forming a regional wastewater authority.

“We have to look at that and determine what that is and when it works best for us,” Fleming said. “We need to keep it within our thinking. I’m not sure that this is the time or if it will be sometime in the future. We won’t know that without studying this.”

The leaders also discussed possible collaboration on economic development matters. Currently, Isle of Wight County has its own economic development department, while Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. is tasked with handling Franklin and Southampton’s economic interests.

“We’ve hit this plateau,” Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors Chairman Phillip Bradshaw said. “We feel that way because we continuously have prospects on this end of the county and in Windsor, but the problem is we always end up as the maid of honor. We haven’t been the bride yet, and we need to get to that point.”

Thomas Wright, who represents the Windsor District on the Isle of Wight board, concurred.

“What difference does it make if a plant is built on the west side of the Blackwater River or the east side?” Wright asked. “They’re going to use the facilities in Windsor, Franklin and Southampton. Everyone is going to benefit from it, not just the county where it’s located.”

The committee plans to meet again sometime in the fall.