It is our hope that the Frankfort Plant Board’s decision this week to discontinue a social media and cable TV campaign advocating for a 7-million-gallon replacement for the nearly 140-year-old reservoir near Tanglewood leads to a final compromise in the debate over the future of water storage in the city.
The Tanglewood Neighborhood Association (TNAi), FPB and the city are entangled in a legal battle — with attorney fees already totaling close to $100,000 — over competing plans for the aging reservoir. The municipal utility proposed a $3.8 million 7-million-gallon tank as a replacement, while the city and TNAi backed the option of two 4.6-million-gallon tanks.
FPB launched a PR campaign to let ratepayers know that the neighborhood and city-preferred plan would cost $3 million more. The utility also used the opportunity to assert political independence from the city commission.
In recent weeks, there have been modest attempts at compromise. FPB offered some aesthetic tweaks to its original proposal, but the neighborhood and elected officials were unimpressed.
“We had a pig in the first (7-million-gallon tank) proposal. Now, we have a pig with lipstick,” Commissioner John Sower said.
A failed compromise within the FPB governing board would have shrunk the single-tank option to 6.5 million gallons.
A compromise solution is at least being explored, and we commend any party willing to sit at the negotiating table.
Only time will tell if Tuesday’s 4-1 vote by FPB directors to halt the campaign that promoted its preferred option and asserted its independence from city government is a signal that the parties are close to finding common ground.
The motion for the vote was made by board member Dawn Hale, who said it is time to tone down the “rhetoric” in the heated debate and work toward a solution.
“The mayor and city commissioners are not evil politicians, Tanglewood residents are not elitists, and this board, while we may not agree on various issues, are all trying to do what’s best,” she said.
Three other FPB board members — Stephen Mason, Walt Baldwin and Jeff Bradshaw — also voted in favor of the action. Worried that it would look as though the municipal utility was backing down from its stance on the issue, board chairwoman Anna Marie Pavlik Rosen cast the lone dissenting vote.
Now is the time for both sides to quit dragging their feet and slinging words and get busy addressing an urgent need — a replacement reservoir.