Vale school water line issue still in limbo

School and city officials are still trying to resolve a dispute over control of a water line to the new middle school. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

VALE – Vale city officials are still waiting for closure on a dispute with the local school district over control of a water line that serves the new Vale Middle School.

At issue is a water line installed at the new school by a contractor last spring. School district officials contend the water line was part of the building plans accepted by the city.

City elected leaders, though, said the city engineer didn’t approve the line and that it wasn’t properly inspected before being connected to the city’s water system.

In October, the Vale public works committee recommended the city take control of the line but the district be responsible for maintaining it for 10 years.

The Vale City Council, though, rejected that recommendation and instead offered the district in October the chance to keep control of the line – but remain tasked with its maintenance. The city also asked that the district cover all costs for repairs or upgrades to the line.

Katie Lamb, Vale city manager, said last week the district has yet to respond to the council’s offer.

Alisha McBride, Vale school district superintendent, said the school board is still pondering the city’s offer. Meanwhile, she said, the school board directed her to ask the middle school contractor and architect to confer with the city about resolving the dispute. That hasn’t happened yet, she said.

Randy Seals, school board chairman, said he hopes there will be some movement on the issue by Christmas.

“It is unfortunate it has gone this long. I guess it is what it is but we are trying to keep a good relationship with the city,” said Seals.

The city turned off water to the new middle school early in the fall but McBride said construction is still proceeding.

“We are in a part of the construction process where we were able to continue” without water, she said.

McBride said she isn’t sure when the issue would be resolved.

“Honestly it would be hard to say. Nothing has changed,” said McBride.

The new middle school is scheduled to be complete in May 2019.