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Bell seeks to smooth Gainesville-Hall water spat
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It’s time to move forward with the Glades Farm Reservoir, Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell told the Gainesville City Council on Tuesday.

“We’re running into a situation where our staffs have done a good job and politicians are getting in the way,” Bell said during the council’s open comment section of the meeting. “We know we have to move forward together, and it was not a good idea to give an ultimatum.”

Bell, who represents Gainesville on the county level, spoke about the letters issued between the city and county.

Hall Chairman Tom Oliver sent a letter to Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner early last week, telling the city the commission will move forward with permitting Glades Farm Reservoir in 15 days, with or without its support.

The next day, Bruner responded with surprise in her own letter, saying the city always supported the reservoir. On Tuesday, Bell agreed.

“There’s no point in building this for anyone else or for another county,” he said. “We wouldn’t cut this source off from our own people.”

In the letter, Bruner also asked for the business plan for the reservoir, explaining that estimated costs sound “staggering” and wants to be aware of costs to the community. Bell agreed and noted that the bigger issue for both governments is how to pay for the project and hopes the county can share the business plan soon.

“With a project so big, Gainesville is a major purchaser and should be in on the business plan,” he said. “We need to jointly look at how to move forward. It’s not appropriate for us to decide something and you to vote it up or down.”

Bell asked that the county letter and ultimatum “be disregarded.” However, Oliver said Tuesday evening he didn’t know Bell was attending the meeting and wasn’t sure how to respond.

“I think it’s a situation where we recognize this reservoir is for all the community,” he said. “However, at the same time, we feel like the county has the challenge and responsibility to move forward with it. Time was of the essence.”

Oliver agreed it’s time to move forward.

“We excited to work with them,” he said. “I look forward to bringing this up at our next meeting.”

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