Cambridge City has approved an option to purchase a piece of land in Gateway Industrial Park for a new water tower. 

Town council members unanimously supported the $10 agreement at a brief special meeting on Wednesday, May 8.

Cambridge City is pursuing more than $2.5 million from U.S. Economic Development Administration toward the approximately $6 million tower. 

Adding water capacity could help with recruitment of additional large employers to the park. The amount of water currently available for fire suppression could be a concern for prospective tenants, according to Valerie Shaffer, Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County president.  

Thus, EDC and Wayne County officials helped ensure the town’s application could be completed before the April 1 deadline. Grant recipients could be announced in August. 

The town’s residential and business customers won’t pay higher water bills for the industrial park work. Their earlier rate increase was for finished in-town repairs. 

As part of the application process, U.S. EDA officials indicated they want Cambridge City to have control of the property where the tower would be placed to qualify for the grant. Having an option to purchase would give the town the needed control. 

Wayne County owns the industrial park land and EDC already has an option to purchase the land.  

Council president Jim McLane noted that the possibility of getting the water grant could ride on signing the option.

Wayne County’s EDC board already approved the option at a May 6 meeting.   

Debbie McGinley, Gary Cole and McLane unanimously approved the plan. Mike Amick and Jim King were absent. 

In other business, council approved paying a $6,000 bill for renting portable toilets during April’s eclipse festivities.

Town officials noted that Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau officials had strongly urged the town to rent 45 toilets in preparation for large crowds. The toilets were placed in several locations along U.S. 40, on side streets, at the fire station and Creitz Park.  

Town officials had hoped to collect fees from renting spaces to recreational vehicle owners in the park to offset toilet rentals, but no financial gain came from those efforts. Cambridge City Main Street had its own expenses for concerts. 

At least some of the toilets were used throughout the weekend, especially at the park on the afternoon of the eclipse, where people gathered to watch the once-in-a-lifetime event.  

In addition to the rental fee, the town also had to cover the cost of a $50 solar light that was stolen from one of the toilets. 

The payment will come from the town’s trash fund. 

Councilors won’t have to predict crowds and make that rental decision again any time soon; the next total solar eclipse in Wayne County won’t happen before the year 2200.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 15 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.