Benson Sewer Project Readies City For Near Future

The recently announced  sewer project for Benson comes ahead of what could well be a growth spurt for the Johnston County city.

City Manager Matt Zapp announced last week the city has applied for – and is likely to get – a United States Department of Agriculture loan for $2.8 million.

The funds are earmarked for a revamping of the current system to make the addition of the new Hampton Inn, which is slated to break ground in November, a smooth transition.

It was a three-year chase to bring the hotel to Benson and it set off a chain of events that would need for every piece to fall into the proper place.

“The new hotel was coming and we knew we were getting really close,” Mr. Zapp said referring to the time before the official announcement. “So over a year ago we started trying to procure our funding.

“Thank the Lord we did that, because it took that long to get the funding sorted out and then we made the hotel announcement at the end of June.”

The city was faced with a possible dilemma when it came to providing the needed sewer and water services to the new addition.

The pump station at that end of town was nearing the end of its life expectancy and city officials realized something had to be done proactively to prevent any major issues.

The plan, which was approved by the Benson Board of Commissioners recently, calls for improvements to the pump stations on S. Walton Ave. and Carolyn Dr. along with the elimination of pump stations on Lakeshore Dr. and Boardwalk Ave.

The improvements will allow for added capacity the elimination of the two stations puts on the system and allows the waste to be re-directed.

“For us it was two concerns of capacity and service,” Mr. Zapp said. “The pump station that will service the hotel has exceeded its service life, there are no parts available.”

He emphasized the needed to upgrade.

“If you build a new hotel and the pump station breaks tomorrow you can’t get parts,” he said. “So we’re averting a tragedy before it happens.”

In addition to the hotel, prospective growth on the West end of Benson could also be on the way, and part of the new project will allow for that expansion as well.

“With a brand new pump station we will have the parts and on the other side of town we want to be ready for the commercial and residential possibilities on the Highway 242 corridor.”

He said preparation is key when anticipating possible expansion on the West end of Benson – and it’s coming according to Mr. Zapp.

“We’ve had calls about large developments and we’ve courted three different improvements on that side of town in the last 60 days,” he said. “There’s nothing we can announce yet, but some really, really good stuff is coming.”

He also cited the continued growth of Benson as another spark for the expansion of the sewer system.

“We’ve also had 40-plus homes constructed annually over the last two years and over $67 million in commercial and industrial expansion,” he said. “So when all of that hits your water-sewer system it hits you quickly.”

Mr. Zapp expects the growth possibilities in the immediate future further warrant the expansion and subsequent loan associated with the project.

“It’s been very positive over the last 36 months,” he said. “And the prospectus over the next 60 (months) are very positive – we’re ahead of the curve.”

And where does that curve lead. Well, according to Mr. Zapp, down a very stable and positive path.

“We want to make sure Benson remains a slice of Americana,” he said. “And to make sure our growth situation is manageable.” Courtesy The Daily Record