Two sides are at a stalemate after Connell's city administrator asked Franklin County commissioners to allow the city to build a water line through county-owned property, but was told the city will have to give up land in return.
Connell is asking the county to let it build a 1,100-foot water line near the western boundary of county property that contains the county's road department shop.
Connell Mayor Blacky Blackwell told the Herald on Tuesday that the state Department of Health is requiring the county to replace the existing water line to about 200 people in the Connell Park Estates mobile home park because it is leaking.
"You can get contamination into the water system if you get too much leakage," he said.
Commissioners told City Administrator Jed Crowther at their Wednesday meeting that the county would let the city have a 60-foot-wide stretch of land in exchange for the county getting 2.2 acres south of the shop owned by Connell. The county would pay the city the difference in the appraised value for any additional land.
The county had been asking for Connell to trade the land south of the road shop in exchange for land the county owns that includes the parking lot for the city-owned community center. Blackwell said the city built the parking lot there in the 1990s, with the understanding that it was landfill and no building could go on it.
That property near the community center is a liability for the county, which does not want the land in the middle of the city, Commissioner Brad Peck said.
The county is interested in the property near its road shop because it provides easy access to Highway 395.
But the city would rather eventually sell the land for expansion of the Columbia Basin Health Association Clinic, which is just south of it, Blackwell said.
Crowther told commissioners he would bring the plan for a land swap back to the Connell City Council for consideration Monday, but Blackwell said Wednesday afternoon that the city won't consider either land swap because the city does not want the county's land.
"That land swap is never going to happen as long as I'm mayor," he said. "I'm not going to bow down to those strong-arm tactics."
Blackwell, who did not attend Wednesday's meeting, said the council will instead discuss other options. The city plans to make property east of the community center ready for parking in case the county tries to close off the parking lot.
Connell is also looking at what it can do if the county won't grant it an easement for the $151,000 water line, Blackwell said. Crowther is checking whether the utility easement might have already been granted by the state Department of Natural Resources when it originally transferred the land to the county.
Another option could be to move trailer homes that are in an easement the city owns next to the county land and put the water line there, Blackwell said.
The county has tried since 2008 to work out a land agreement with the city, commissioners said at the meeting. But Connell has been unreceptive.
They said the deal the county was offering was fair.
"We need the access, you need the easement," Commissioner Rick Miller said. "I think we can work something out."
-- Commissioners agreed to support giving up to $10,000 of economic development money to help the Port of Pasco land a federal grant for the Tri-Cities Airport. Peck said the money would go toward making revenue guarantees to an airline interested in having regular service to Los Angeles from Pasco. Airlines can be reluctant to commit to providing such service. The deadline to agree to support the request is Friday.
-- Commissioners opened one bid for asphalt to be placed on a quarter-mile stretch of Pearl Street between roads 44 and 48. The bid of $6,432.80 from Western States Asphalt of Spokane was just below the $6,500 estimate.
-- Commissioners agreed to a request from the Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau to sign a letter expressing support for a Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; email@example.com;Twitter: @GeoffFolsom