County and city officials are close to finalizing an agreement for the completion of Sawmill Parkway, and the Delaware County commissioners plan to hash out the final details in a public forum.
While negotiations are ongoing, the commissioners agreed to hold a work session in the coming months to go over the finer points of the contract once it is completed.
“We are close to what I think is a fair and equitable agreement,” Commissioner Gary Merrell said.
The idea to discuss the deal in public session was brought forward by Commissioner Ken O’Brien, a proposal that Administrator Tim Hansley seemed less than enthused about.
“As long as it is under a 50-percent contribution from the city, (O’Brien) intends to vote against the document anyway,” Hansley said. “So to try to satisfy his every concern and his every fear in a document he intends to vote against anyway seems to be absolutely not productive of anyone’s time.”
O’Brien, who originally suggested the city pay for 100 percent of the cost of the roadway within its limits, said he would consider voting for the current proposal. However, he has some concerns about repayment and the city’s ability to expand a tax-increment financing district it plans to create in order to pay for the project.
“I can handle having the discussion and getting outvoted,” he said. “I cannot handle not having the discussion.”
County official said in September that they have a “handshake agreement around the conceptual plan” to extend the parkway from its current terminus at Hyatts Road about 1,600 feet north to U.S. 42.
Under the tentative agreement, the city will pay 37.5 percent of the cost of the roadway construction within city limits. City officials had originally proposed to pay for 25 percent of the cost of the roadway. County officials had counter-offered with a demand for 50 percent.
Based on the most recent cost estimates made public, completing the parkway would cost about $42 million, $16 million of which would be needed for the portion of the roadway within the city.
However, the ultimate cost to the city will be determined by the way in which the county chooses to finance the project.
Hansley said in the final deal, both sides will have to make some trade-offs.
“It’s going to be a compromise or it’s not going to happen at all,” he said.