WEST ONEONTA _ A survey of property owners and tenants on Oneonta's Southside shows more than 80 percent of the respondents support a new town water district.

The one-question survey was sent to 64 property owners and tenants last month, and the town received 34 responses from people or businesses interested in the idea, including Wal-Mart. Eight responses came from those who are opposed.

"It was really preliminary," said Oneonta Town Supervisor Robert Wood.

Wood said the town is trying to gauge interest in a Southside water district now because the state is planning a massive highway reconstruction project for state routes 23 and 28 in 2010.

"To do it after the reconstruction would be silly," Wood said.

The state Department of Health has urged the town to create a water district on Southside in anticipation of more development, he said.

"They are concerned about capacity," he said.

Water districts increase property values and can be more convenient for businesses and residents, but users typically pay an annual fee for water service, Wood said.

Town Councilman Carleton Delameter said town officials would look to tie into the city's reservoir-based system or create their own system by drilling wells.

"That would be a decision made in the future," Delameter said.

There have been some preliminary discussions with the city about tying into its system, Wood said.

The town has three active water districts _ the Woodland Water District, the West End Water District and a new district to serve the Plains at Parish Homestead on state Route 7.

Unlike those districts, Southside consists primarily of businesses.

Currently, all of the businesses and property owners have their own wells, and sewer lines were installed on most of Southside in the early 1990s.

The town unsuccessfully attempted to create an East End water district in 2004.

"The residents voted it down," Delameter said. "We could not get the 50 percent we needed."

Wood said it is still not known how much a water district would cost, how it would be funded or what steps would need to be taken to get it approved.

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