Oh, the good old days, or were they? It might be hard for many to recall, but Grove City didn’t have a sanitary sewer system until 1937. Up until then, when an inside toilet flushed or water drained from a sink, it went into a septic system or cesspool on the homeowner’s lot. The result, odor and contamination.
Many of the homes had a leach field that drained into open ditches along the streets. An article in the Grove City Record described the situation as creating offensive odors and objectionable conditions. Adding to the problem, the ditches frequently became stagnate. Crews from the county had to come into town to clear street side ditches allowing the waste water to move quicker.
Health Department officials described the situation “deplorable” and pointed out the potential for an outbreak of typhoid fever.
What created the problem? Around 1922, the village took a major step forward. It built a water purification plant, dug a well and constructed a water tower at the present site of Windsor Park. To complete the effort, the village installed water lines to residential homes.
That was a positive, but it also created an unexpected problem. Municipal water flowing freely into homes also created more outflow. In turn, more liquid was leaving the house than what the household septic systems weren’t built to accommodate.
The result, stagnant and odorous open ditches.
The problem would not have existed if the village had installed both water lines and a sewage system in the early 1920s but as often was the case, it was one step at a time because of municipal revenue.
The urgency came to a head when a Grove City resident threatened to sue the village because of the open ditches and unhealthy conditions. In January 1936, a $25,000 bond issue was being discussed by village council to pay the village share of a sewage treatment plant and installation of sewage tile.
The bond issue was approved by voters and the community got behind the project. Over 100 property owners contributed to the project allowing the village to secure easements.
That wouldn’t be the entire cost though. Since the village was able to use Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers, the village was only obligated for one fifth of the $263,000 projected cost. The contract also provided that village and township residents would have the first employment opportunities. Workers received $65 in monthly wages.
A location for the sewage treatment plant was on property owned by Benjamin Ziner. The village purchased 1.6 acres on Hoover Road for $1,600. The site was just north of the current Jackson Township Administrative building.
The main sewer lines would include 18-inch pipe and eight-inch pipe in residential areas. In September, a record 3,420 feet of sewer pipe was laid in five days; by October, 29,000 feet had been placed in the ground with only 19,000 feet remaining. One of the major projects was drilling a tunnel under the B&O Railroad tracks.
The entire project was finished in 1937 and the sewage plant opened June 3, 1937. Now, with both water and sewage treatment plants in operation, residents were told to expect the village to nearly double in size.
Grove City was then recognized as suburban community.
James F. Hale, 2018