The Lubbock City Council voted unanimously Thursday morning to take what many call the first major step toward constructing the Lake Alan Henry pipeline. Thursday, council approved the $1.5 million contract for land acquisition services associated with the pipeline project.
Before construction can begin on the 65 mile pipeline that will stretch from Lake Alan Henry all the way to Lubbock, the city must acquire easements from all the landowners who will be affected.
Enter the land acquisition team whose primary duty will be to negotiate with landowners concerning the placement of the pipeline on their property. "This was a big day in that we actually formulated the team that will begin the purchase of the right of way," says David Miller, the Mayor of Lubbock.
Preparations for construction of the Lake Alan Henry pipeline are beginning to trickle into place. At $240 million it's often referred to by council members as the city's biggest project. City officials call council's unanimous vote to approve the $1.5 million contract for the land acquisition team a major milestone.
"McDougal Realtors with Marc McDougal will be the project manager Marc McDougal had had a lot of experience partly Marc in negotiation for real estate and easements and things like that," says Aubrey Spear, the assistant director of water utilities for the City of Lubbock.
Before construction can begin on the pipeline, members of the land acquisition team must negotiate with nearly 135 different property owners for easement rights to their land.
"It becomes a very personal thing when we approach them and talk to them about we need to run a pipeline across your property and so we wanted people who had experience in Garza County, Lynn County, Lubbock County that they are one of the people here in West Texas and they understand that we need to sit down and talk to people and work with them," says Spear.
The land acquisition team will also financially negotiate with landowners. "There is a fee associated and price tag to each person's property and the easement we purchase for the right to have that pipeline there so they will be compensated for that," says Spear.
Taxpayers already feel the effect of the multi-million dollar project. In January city council approved a significant increase for Lubbock's water and sewer rates that went into effect this month.
Rates are expected to increase over the next six years to cover construction of the pipeline and waste water treatment facilities. "When you compare Lubbock water rates with other cities in Texas, we're still right in the middle of the pack even though our water is so far away," says Mayor Miller.
And the mayor promises the payoff is in the not so distant future. City officials expect it will take the land acquisition team between nine months to a year to secure most of the properties. In the meantime, the city is also looking for land in Southeast Lubbock to build the water treatment plant terminal and storage reservoir.
The project is expected to be complete by 2012.
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