AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - A petition circulating online has gathered more than 1,300 signatures in less than two days. It was created after one Auburn resident called for the rerouting of a planned water transmission main that is currently slated to run right through Chewacla State Park.
Tim Carlton created the petition. He says he spends about four days a week in the park and does not want to see trees cleared for a water main.
“The petition is about whether it’s okay to use public lands that are owned by the state in order to put a private utility or a municipal utility in,” Carlton said. “The area that the pipeline is going in is mature trees. They would cut a clear path through the park, across a creek, and out the back of the property line through these woods," Carlton stated. "This would significantly impact the visibility of the woods.”
Matt Dunn, the assistant director for the City of Auburn’s Water Resource Management, says that they have gone over multiple locations for the five-mile long water main. The total project is going to cost about $5 million and, after working with Chewacla officials for about a year, this is the best, least intrusive option, he says.
“It’s crucial for the water board and the citizens of Auburn. This is a 4 million gallon per day supply of water that will provide a great source of water for the citizens of Auburn for years to come,” Dunn explained. “We will cross the trails inside the park in approximately nine locations, assuming that’s a 20 foot wide path, the impact to the overall trails would be about 180 feet. There’s a lot of open space between the trees, more than that 20 feet in some areas. So over the course of time, within a matter of a few months, we really don’t even think this is going to be noticeable. The trails will be put back, we are going to coordinate with the biking groups on those. The trails will be put back as they were.”
But, Carlton says that after trees are cleared, some areas may never be the same. He suggested other options.
“It’s not going to heal up and go away and, so it’s a scar that will be on the property for basically the rest of time,” Carlton claims. "Behind the park there is a quarry you could actually make it all the way to the quarry on existing roadbeds and that would be an appropriate solution without having to cut through these woods. There’s also a large development behind the park called Mims Trail that’s adding hundreds of homes, that’s right now clearing the area behind the park. That would be a prime opportunity to use that space and be able to run the pipeline that way instead. "
Dunn says that they will continue to work closely with Chewacla officials and bike clubs and plan on doing whats best for both the city and the state park.
A construction start date has not been set.