Marion resident wants lift station moved

Sep. 16—Betty Spells was born and raised in Marion and has spent much of her life living in her parents house on Overstreet Lane, which now belongs to her. Spells has plans to build her own home in the future, but before that can be done, a sewer lift station belonging to the town in her front yard needs to be moved, she said.

Unlike freshwater systems, which are pressurized, sewer systems often rely on gravity to move water and waste through the network of pipes. Lift stations utilize pumps to move waste from a lower elevation to higher elevation when gravity needs a boost.

Lift station pumps need a constant supply of power, and outages due to storms or other causes have led to bad odors and even overflows into the front yard, Spells said.

Spells said she has lobbied town officials for years to have the lift station relocated to the rear of her family's property to free up the land for her home and reduce any health risks from potential overflows.

According to online maps from the Lauderdale County Tax Assessor, the family owns two neighboring tracts of land totaling about seven acres along Confederate Drive.

Elvis Hudson, who served as mayor of Marion for 16 years before retiring in 2021, said he had worked with Spells on the project during his time in office, but was unsuccessful in getting it done. The big hangup, he said, was funding.

Hudson recalled moving the lift station was estimated at around $100,000, which is a significant expense for Marion. In its 2024 fiscal year budget adopted by the Board of Aldermen earlier this month, the town showed projected revenues of roughly $2.3 million without including grants.

"He kept promising us that he was going to move it," Spells said.

Hudson was also in office when the family's former driveway was named Overstreet Lane and added to the town's road list. Plans to pave the road, which is wide enough for only one car and patched with bricks and rocks, also went unrealized by the end of his time in office.

From an overall perspective, Hudson said he sees relocating the lift station and paving the road as an opportunity for more economic development. While Spells and her family own the land south of the road, to the north is a large, undeveloped tract of land that would be ideal for a new subdivision or housing complex, he said.

Mayor Larry Gill, who took office in 2021, said he too has talked with Spells and heard her concerns about the lift station. Unfortunately, he said, that's just not something the town can change immediately. Moving a lift station is no easy task, Gill said, as relocating the pumps will have an impact on the gravity flow throughout other areas of the sewer system.

Given the cost, which would come out to roughly 4% of the town's total annual budget, Gill said relocating the lift station isn't a cost he can justify.

"It's just not feasible for the town to go in and move it to accommodate one house," he said.

Gill said he understands Spells' position and why she wants the lift station moved, and he isn't crossing the project off entirely. If the town can find a grant or other funding that could be used to cover the cost, he said, he's willing to revisit the issue.

On her part, Spells, who has addressed aldermen at their semimonthly meetings, said she just wants town officials to come out and the lift station for themselves.

Contact Thomas Howard at