County and Village of Ottawa officials discuss the water and sewer districts at an earlier meeting held on Dec. 6, 2018. (file photo)
County and Village of Ottawa officials discuss the water and sewer districts at an earlier meeting held on Dec. 6, 2018. (file photo)

OTTAWA — For months, the Putnam County Board of Commissioners and representatives of the Village of Ottawa have engaged in comprehensive, occasionally tense, and, until recently, fundamentally fruitless negotiations regarding water and sewer service currently maintained by the county. During Monday’s meeting of the Ottawa Village Council, that impasse, at least in part, was overcome. Following a relatively brief executive session that included Commissioner John Schlumbohm, council approved an ordinance accepting ownership of water lines to nearly two dozen residential and commercial customers on Ottawa’s east side and further outside the village.

“As of Feb. 1, they are going to own the waterline,” Schlumbohm said on Tuesday. “And, it will cost [the county] nothing, from that date forward. It was a productive meeting.”

That sense of accomplishment was shared by officials in Ottawa.

“This benefits the end user, the village and the county,” said Ottawa Municipal Director Jack Williams. “This is good for everyone concerned.”

Even so, the sentiment is tempered with a “wait and see” attitude. Williams reported the board of commissioners still needs to vote on and approve the transfer, a vote that won’t take place until Thursday afternoon.

While this potential agreement cedes waterlines previously owned by the county to the Village of Ottawa, as yet there’s no movement on Ottawa’s part to assume responsibility for wastewater infrastructure servicing the same area, a reality Schlumbohm acknowledged.

“Just the water, at this point,” Schlumbohm said about the deal. “We’re still working on the sewer.”

And for both parties, this was the sticking point. From the outset, Ottawa officials made no pretext of their willingness to assume the water portion of the county’s responsibility. The wastewater component, however, is one the county is just as anxious to let go.

“We don’t want to be in the water and sewer business,” Commissioner Mike Lammers has said repeatedly.

While Ottawa is willing and able to take that infrastructure on as well, concerns about the condition of that same infrastructure — and the cost of repairs, should any be needed — has stymied any turnover, at least for the moment.

Council also heard from a village businessman whose practices have caused some neighbors a degree of concern.

Late last year, council was informed of complaints regarding parking on the sidewalk adjacent to The Shop, an auto repair facility at the intersection of U.S. Route 224 and North Perry Street. In addressing the issue, Tony Imm, an owner of the business, requested the village vacate the sidewalks, rather than enforce any ordinances regarding their obstruction.

Council took Imm’s request under advisement, but took no immediate action.

In other business, council:

• accepted resignations from firefighters Clarence Thomas and Todd Sunderhaus, as recommended by Ottawa Fire Chief Dan Rieman

• approved a resolution accepting a proposal from Kahle Electrinc, Inc., in the amount of $8,405 for a circuit breaker panel at the village’s Memorial Pool.

• approved a resolution accepting a proposal from Kalhle Electric, Inc., in the amount of $2,615 for a light pole and light fixture in Waterworks Park.

The next regular meeting of the Ottawa Village Council is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the village offices.