GOSHEN — Another 24 properties in Prairie Creek Run will get access to Elkhart city water after the Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission approved funding. 

The commission voted to make a $70,000 appropriation of Tax Increment Finance District funds to cover work that will be done in the public right of way. That includes digging up to the water main, making the connection and then restoring the road, according to Redevelopment Program Coordinator Natasha Kauffmann.

She said engineers estimated a cost of $61,000 but suggested setting aside an even $70,000 for contingencies. Stormwater funds were already secured for parts of the project that will be done on private land, something that TIF money can’t be used for.

“It’s a pretty small amount of money to help people get clean water,” commission member Rick Gentle said.

Kauffmann said letters would be sent to the 24 property owners to schedule a meeting so a right-of-entry form can be signed. The land will also be surveyed so connections can be made accurately.

A contract for construction can go out after the Elkhart County Council lends its approval to the funding.

Many of the 24 properties are on Modrell Avenue and Independence Street in Osolo Township. They represent the people who expressed interest in participating in the second phase of the three-part project, which aims to provide access to Elkhart city water to hundreds of homes in the unincorporated area north of the city.

Kauffmann explained how they arrived at that number out of an original list of 66 parcels, half of which are owner-occupied. After planners sent three waves of letters and held a public meeting between January and May, almost half of the owner-occupied properties expressed interest in participating as well as about a quarter of those owned by landlords.

RDC member Jim Skillen said people who did express interest represent 75 percent of those who gave any sort of answer, which he considered a strong response. Kauffmann indicated the response rate out of the total number of properties was a little better than expected.

Member Mandy Leazenby asked if people will have the option of tapping into the water lines later. Director of Planning and Development Chris Godlewski said they would have to approach the city about it, and likely wouldn’t get the same reduction in costs as the Phase 2 participants.

Kauffmann said the third mailer that was sent out made it clear that it was the last chance to opt-in.

She also noted that the third phase, which involves the construction of new water mains to deepen the reach of utilities into the neighborhood, will have more of a “mass effect.” She said it will also make sense at that time to build connection points in front of more properties, so future owners would have the option of connecting.

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