The City of La Porte and 39 North Conservancy District announced’ Friday that agreement had been reached on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) providing for the City to purchase and operate the district’s water and sewer system as part of the city’s annexation effort north of the city.

Conservancy District Board President Mark Childress indicated his board approved the MOU unanimously at a meeting of the Conservancy District this morning with the City expected to follow suit at next week’s City Council and

Board of Works meetings. Said Childress, “Negotiations really intensified after a meeting between the city and district teams on August 7 and our attorneys worked diligently on this MOU. I want to compliment the attorneys for both the City and District as well as financial advisors on both sides for their efforts so that we could come together to reach an agreement that will help foster future job growth and economic development along the 39N corridor.”

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody concurred with Childress about the positive nature of the negotiations and said that “Under this agreement the City will provide $2 million in water and sewer credits to all 39 North property owners who are customers of the district’s water and sewer service and we will make capital upgrades to the water system including a new water tower, a new booster station and necessary looping of water lines. This will increase capacity and water pressure and allow us to bring in new valuable development along the 39 North Corridor. This is a win/win for residents both inside the city and in the county.”

The Agreement provides for the District Board to remain intact to “oversee administration of the terms of the interlocal and asset agreement” which Childress added should give “comfort to district freeholders to know that we will ensure that the promised infrastructure improvements happen, that credits are distributed and that district residents and businesses pay no more than city residents and businesses pay for water and sewer service. In turning over the water and sewer distribution system to the City, we are confident that we get the ‘economies of scale’ with the City fully operating both systems and providing quality water and sewer service for decades to come in full compliance with IDEM, State Board of Health and EPA regulations.”

Childress pointed out that the benefit of the “water and sewer credits will go to any 39 North utility customers whether they are in the area annexed or not. With annexation moving forward, our board felt it best to negotiate whatever benefits we could for our freeholders and we’re pleased with the unanimous vote this morning.”

Dermody concurred with the “positive and collaborative nature of the negotiations these past few weeks and pledged that residents and businesses both inside the City and outside will see benefits not only from the annexation but from the upgrades planned to water and sewer service. We’re working closely with the county on multiple, impactful economic development projects that are all dependent on the additional utility services in the area. We are excited for the overall growth potential for this area and look forward to the many benefits to our City, La Porte County and all our surrounding communities.”