The Dexter Community School Board of Education gave the go-ahead to Dexter Village on its plan for a fifth well site.
The board voted unanimously to ratify the agreement that permits the village to drill the well site on the Dexter High School property.
The village will pay $40,000 to the district for the easement for property that will sit beneath a pump and well-house. A water main will also be put into the ground to feed the municipality’s water customers.
The village water system serves roughly 3,055 customers.
District officials decided to go ahead with the agreement despite a last-minute outcry by residents to hold up the easement agreement in order to attach an agreement or intent to pursue an agreement to fluoridate the village’s water both at their existing four wells and the proposed fifth well-site.
Shawn Letwin, a Webster Township resident and member of the Athletic Boosters Club of Dexter, sent out a mass email Sunday – a day prior to the regularly scheduled school board meeting.
“I hope you believe like I and others do that the district should amend the motion to accept the agreement with the condition/contingency that the Village of Dexter install fluoridation equipment prior to installing a village well on DCS property or table the motion,” Letwin wrote.
He was also present at the Monday night meeting.
“Growing up in the 60s fluoride was an important part of public health,” Letwin said. “I don’t go through the kind of care that my parents went through because of property care and fluoridation.”
He argued that due to the fact that the district and its body of students and staff are a significant block of village water customers, the district should do everything in its power to ensure the best quality of water.
“(We’re) doing a favor to the village to let them drill … we like the (rest of) the contract, but maybe that agreement should be renegotiated. For me the simple vote of yes or no is going to speak volumes about Dexter Community Schools.”
Board Trustee Julie Schumaker made a motion to accept the agreement and Trustee Dick Lundy supported the motion.
“I am really pleased to work collaboratively with the village and this well is much needed,” Schumaker said. “On the issue of fluoridated water, I think it’s an important topic. If I were a resident of the village I would make my stance on it known, but they are really two separate issues. I wouldn’t feel comfortable linking the two together.”
She added that she felt someone was looking for a window of opportunity, as a “policy entrepreneur,” to push the fluoridation issue through using the well easement as an opening.
Lundy backed her up. “Two things need to be addressed – the fact of the matter is we have been working on this for months and months with village attorneys and our attorneys on a resolution that we agree on.”
He felt that to go back on the agreement and make plans to revisit its terms now would be a “breach in faith” in the districts negotiating process.
“I too think the issue is separate from the easement, there are other venues to look at that other that this agreement,” Lundy concluded.
Board President Larry Cobler said he felt that this “wasn’t the right time” for the discussion and took the vote, which was unanimously in favor of giving the village their easement.
After the meeting Village President Shawn Keough was pleased. “We’re glad the easement went through. We’ve spent a lot of time and money (reaching an agreement).”
Consultants from Plymouth-based Orchard Hiltz & McCliment, Inc. have been paid for services in regard to the fifth well and surveyors have researched the viability of the well-site and the scope of work that would be needed to make it a productive source of water.
Village officials say they are sure the fluoride issue is going to be a point of discussion in the future.
Keough did take the opportunity remind residents that there is natural fluoride in village provided water.
However the amount is below the amount that the American Dental Association recommends.