Oh the heels of a March 8 decision to award a contract to Bleyl Engineering for extending water and sewer services to the Tamina community, the city of Shenandoah released a statement on March 10 outlining its plans to initiate community engagement throughout the expected three-year project.

The project will be funded with up to $21 million in American Rescue Act Plans through an agreement reached between Shenandoah, Old Tamina Water Supply Corporation and Montgomery County in December. Shenandoah also slated $750,000 in ARPA funds for the project last year.

Shenandoah officials said ARPA funds—part of a federal COVID-19 recovery program—can be used for projects such as infrastructure.

Design and engineering work on the project will begin immediately, with survey and site assessments beginning in Tamina next month, according to a news release from Shenandoah.

The unincorporated community of Tamina was founded in 1871 by formerly enslaved people following the end of the Civil War, Community Impact has previously reported.

Residents of the community have attended recent Shenandoah meetings to ask for clarity on timelines, and James Leveston, president of Old Tamina Water Supply Corporation, provided Community Impact with a letter he wrote in February that points to several concerns voiced by residents.

Leveston said OTWSC purchases wholesale water from Lake Chateau Woods to distribute to its customers, who use septic tanks. He said the search for a plan for sewer service has been in the making for more than 15 years.

"We feel the same way about this deal as we did about the Oak Ridge deal, and we are standing by our decision, but we are not satisfied with it," he said in the letter, referencing previous plans that hit roadblocks.

Shenandoah Mayor John Escoto said in a statement the awarding of the contract marks the beginning of the project.

“This is a historic day that has been decades in the making," Escoto said. "I look forward to working with our neighbors in Tamina as we complete a successful project and also learn more about the rich history of the community.”

The release from Shenandoah states the new water and sewer system will also provide fire hydrants throughout the Tamina community.

According to the release, the engineer and city staff will put together an engagement plan for the duration of the project.

“Communication will be key to this project since it will be lengthy and will involve ongoing work throughout the community," said John Bleyl, president and CEO of Bleyl Engineering. “This will be an exciting project to work on, and we look forward to working with the Tamina community leadership.”