Big Cove neighborhood meets with Huntsville Utilities over water tank issue

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.-- Neighbors in Big Cove Estates are upset about a Huntsville Utilities project to build a water tank at the end of Runell Drive. They say their initial concern about it has boiled over because it is now affecting their lives.

WHNT News 19 explained both sides of the issue last month, when the construction started.  Neighbors worry about how the tank will affect property values, and say the noise of the drilling is nonstop all day. But Huntsville Utilities representatives say the spot is a carefully-chosen site for a project that will improve water services in the area.

Neighbors wanted answers about the project, and didn't get them formally. The utility company didn't provide notice of the project before it began.

Huntsville Utilities representatives finally met with affected residents of the Big Cove Estates neighborhood to explain Wednesday.

"It should have happened months ago," said resident Linda Burkavich. She lives closest to the construction, and is one of the neighbors most impacted by the project.

That meeting included a hefty apology about the previous lack of communication, explained Huntsville Utilities Communications Director Joe Gehrdes.

"We learned a hard lesson about communication. It's the key to everything," he said, "and we could have communicated this project better. We should have communicated this project better."

He added that Huntsville Utilities recognizes these upset citizens are its customers, and the company will work to do what they can to satisfy the concerns neighbors have. Still, he said leaders believe the project needs to remain at the site for which it's currently designated.

"This site is ideal, mainly because of the elevation for water service," he explained, adding that the service will be a big benefit to the neighbors who live nearby because it will increase their level of service.

Huntsville Utilities will look into moving the planned water tank further back on the property, assessing costs and having conversations with project managers about what the possibilities might be.

"It will take some time to do that analysis, but we will take that information back to management," said Gehrdes, "and respond to the neighborhood as quickly as we can."

While that is an acceptable option, should it work out, neighbors tell us they found much of this meeting to be "lip service."

"To me, it felt like they were placating us," said Burkavich. "Saying 'I'm sorry,' in this case, does not change anything."