Solution to Vale school water line dispute remains elusive

VALE – A resolution to a simmering dispute between the city and the Vale School District over a water line loop at the new middle school remains elusive after city leaders tabled a decision on the matter. During its regular session last week the Vale City Council decided to review the issue again at its Jan. 22 meeting.

The council move came in the wake of an offer by the school district. The district urged the city to accept an earlier recommendation by the Vale Public Works Committee where the city acquired control of the line but the district maintained it for 10 years. 

“We asked they either consider accepting that offer or go into mediation with the district,” said Alisha McBride, Vale school district superintendent. 

The public works recommendation, made in October, was rejected by the city council. Instead, the council presented an offer where the district obtained control of the line and all maintenance into the future. The city also asked that the district cover all costs of repairs or upgrades to the line. 

Brad Williams, Vale city councilor, said he favors the city taking over the line and its repair but he doesn’t think all the future costs should be borne by the city.

“It should be shared by the district, not just the taxpayers of the city of Vale,” said Williams.

At issue is a water line loop installed around the middle school by a district contractor last spring. 

School district officials say the loop, which is intended for fire protection and water supply to the new school, was part of the building plans accepted by the city.

City officials contend the water line wasn’t approved by the city engineer and the installation wasn’t properly inspected before it was hooked into the city water system. 

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.