Businesses still without H2O

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— Several downtown businesses have been without water for months because of a broken water pipe.

Wolf Mountain Pizza on the south side of Jefferson Avenue in the 100 block has water, but only because the owners came up with a temporary solution. They had a plumber install a line from a tap at a neighboring property, said owner Tracey Barnhardt.

"We're hoping this water thing comes to an end soon because it's making everyone very irritable," she said. "We're very fortunate because if we didn't have water, we would have been out of business on July 1."

The other businesses have not been so fortunate.

The hairdresser at Jacque's Hair Studio has been forced to make a lot of house calls, and the people who work at the affected businesses have been using the bathroom at Hayden Town Hall.

"Everybody agrees this has gone on way too long," said Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin.

The town has been working to find a solution to a problem that began when a water service line that Martin estimated is more than 50 years old broke underneath the Precision Excavating building at Jefferson Avenue and Chestnut Street in late June. A valve was closed to take care of the leak, but that cut off water to the four businesses east of Precision Excavating.

Because it is a service line, it is not the responsibility of the town to fix the broken pipe. It is similar to how homeowners are responsible for getting water from the curb into their home.

"Our responsibility is to make sure they can get served," Martin said. "Their responsibility as owners is to make sure they can access our water and sewer lines."

Poor city planning from years ago can be blamed in part for why there is no easy solution. The buildings share the service line, which runs underneath the buildings. The businesses need to access the water main on Chestnut Street and the easiest way to do that would be to run a line from Chestnut into the alley behind the buildings. But it is private property and the owner, Loren Dobell, wanted $35,000 from the building owners to create an easement for the water pipe.

"The owners are unwilling to do that," Martin said.

Ultimately, Martin said the town has a responsibility to make sure the businesses can get served. The Hayden Town Board on Thursday will discuss three options for accessing the main on Chestnut Street. While this issue has taken a lot of time by Hayden staff, the costs associated would be the burden of the building owners.

The building owners could pay Dobell the $35,000. Another option includes using Jefferson Avenue/U.S. Highway 40 from Chestnut Street to access the properties. The town has also looked into condemning Dobell's property to create an easement.

"Obviously if we got to a condemnation that could take time and cost money and could cause some agony," Martin said.

Creating an easement would take care of an inevitable future problem. The sewer line is also buried under the buildings and will also someday break, Martin said.

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