PONCA CITY, Okla. - City commissioners here approved an agreement on Aug. 24 with the Osage Nation Gaming Enterprise to build a sewer line connecting the Million Dollar Elm's proposed permanent location to the city's sewer system.
The commission's unanimous decision gives the green light for casino and tribal officials to pursue the project in which an approximately two-mile sewer line will stretch from the casino's location east of Ponca City along U.S. Highway 60 and under the Arkansas River before it taps into the city's sewer infrastructure.
"The cost of this system will be entirely born by the Osage Nation," as part of the agreement, city development services director Chris Henderson told the commission. "Upon completion, there will be a two-year maintenance bond" given to the city from the yet-to-be hired contractor to insure maintenance of the project, he said.
Henderson said the Nation approached the city with the proposed sewer line project in February to accomodate its future permanent Ponca City casino. A temporary casino location sits near the 15-acre site in an unincorportated part of Osage County just east of the Arkansas River.
City officials agreed to consider the idea and worked with tribal and gaming officials on the agreement, which is signed by Mayor Homer Nicholson and Principal Chief Jim Gray.
In the agreement, the project will be a gravity flow sewer system with a lift station which will be built on the east side of the Arkansas River. The lift station will be designed and constructed similar to Ponca City's Blake lift station, which is the city's most up-to-date station.
When the project is completed, the city will take ownership of the sewer line, so the project construction will be monitored by city officials and it must follow city regulations in addition to those set by the Nation and the state.
"The Osage will also pay a monthly fee for the operation and maintenance... of that lift station," Henderson said. The maintenance cost per month will be $1,200.
Henderson said the project could also serve as a population boost for the area surrounding the casino location. The unincorporated area includes several businesses and housing, but has seen a population decline in recent years with a lack of an adequate sewage system as one likely reason, he said.
"This line will be oversized," he said. "It will be sized beyond what the needs are of the Osage casino and so the residential and commercial owners along highway 60, at the city's discretion, can potentially tie into this line."
As a commercial user, the Nation will pay monthly sewer rates like other city customers to use the sewer line, according to the agreement.
The Nation has hired Tulsa-based CGA Engineers Inc. to design the sewer project. Bids on the project need to be sent out before a contractor is hired to build it.