The Clovis City Council voted to move forward planning for new educational center sewer connection, but with the city of Fresno's southeast growth plans on hold concerns remain about just how temporary it will be.

April 10, 2023 — Clovis City Council

Documented by Ntsa Iab Vang

What happened: A Harris Construction trailer and massive grading vehicle sit along Leonard Avenue ready to prepare the land slated to become Clovis Unified’s Terry Bradley Educational Center, but due to its location in unincorporated Fresno County within the city of Fresno’s sphere of influence a big question remains about how the school complex will receive water and sewer services.

At its April 10 meeting, the Clovis City Council approved a request from the Clovis Unified School District Board for staff to explore options for the city to provide a “temporary” connection to sewer services for the next five to 15 years, at which time they hope to be able to connect to the city of Fresno’s infrastructure if it moves foward with the stalled implementation of its South East Development Area (SEDA) plan.

Though the initial request from the district was for both water and sewer services, Assistant Public Utilities Director Paul Armendariz said that Clovis Unified has made headway in connecting to the city of Fresno’s water infrastructure and is now only needing to connect to Clovis’ sewer infrastructure.

Another option the district has considered is to build its own temporary support infrastructure site near the school complex, but it was denied by the Fresno County Planning Commission on March 23.

The district plans to open registration to the school for 1,200 students in 2025 and said that if it doesn’t open Clovis East High School will have to serve 5,000 students when it is built to fit 3,500.

Mike Prandini of the Building Industry Association spoke in support of Clovis Unified’s request, but said they are concerned that the city of Fresno may never move forward with SEDA and about what will happen if the temporary connection becomes permanent.

Prandini said he was concerned about the effluent flowing into the trunk line and said he heard estimates from the Fresno Mayor’s Office that the infrastructure improvements needed in the SEDA area are $600 million. 

“There are concerns that this could turn out to be a real mess in 15 years, so whatever you do, you need to tie the city of Fresno’s hands and nail them to the ground and they cannot escape,” he said.

Jeff Harris of Wilson Homes expressed similar concerns about sewer capacity issues, saying that his company and several other developers have planned housing developments in the area dependent on the city’s sewer infrastructure.

And also: City Engineer Mike Harrison presented a water and sewer major facilities workshop with strategies to reduce the city’s debt. He said the current debt is approximately $20 million and is predicted to drop off in 2039. 

Up next: The Clovis City Council held a special meeting on April 14 and will meet again on May 1.

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