|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM After rejecting the initial $31.2 million Southwest Feeding Hills Sewer Extension Project in February, months of re-planning and a new chair of the City Council's Ad Hoc Sewer Committee, Robert Rossi, the committee finally has produced a viable project endorsed by the council.
On Sept. 17, the council voted 10 to one in favor of three resolutions proposed by Mayor Susan Dawson that allows the town to begin Phase One of the six-phase project next spring. City Councilor Jill Simpson voted against the three resolutions.
"The initial plan really upset a lot of people and would have put an undue [financial] burden [of over $18,000 per household]," Douglas Reed of 10 Shelley Lane, also a citizen member of the Ad Hoc Sewer Committee, said. "We've gotten to a fair compromise and the way it's designed it's manageable for citizens. It would be criminal if we didn't do [this project]."
The three resolutions authorized the town to bond $3.73 million to fund Phase One, adopted an Order of Public Notice for the future betterment assessment and approved the adjustment of the sewer entrance fee and wastewater fees.
Phase One will construct gravity sewers traveling west on Shoemaker Lane to Route 57 and then south on South Westfield Street encompassing 36 homes. The bond will be repaid through wastewater operation revenue as well as a 21-cent increase of the $2.40 sewer use rate.
Residences and businesses in Phase One will be required to pay a Special Benefit Assessment of $1,750 and a General Benefit Assessment of $807. Those who choose to hook up to the sewer system will be charged an additional $1,600.
"This [project] isn't primarily for the 36 residences [in Phase One]," Rossi said. "This is the only way to get this done. It's the most feasible, cost-effective route and the only way to reach people [in high-need areas such as Red Fox and White Fox Drive]. We need to get this thing started."
Rossi explained that once Phase One begins, the Ad Hoc Sewer Committee will meet to discuss the implementation of the additional five phases, which will each cost between $3.75 and $3.92 million.
Phase Two will construct a pumping station on Pine Street and a force main to South Westfield Street. Phase Three will extend the sewer system to Bradford Drive and Tannery Drive. Phase Four will bring sewers to Barbara Lane, Gina Drive, Joanne Circle and Kathy Terrace. Phase Five will extend the sewer system to Partridge Court, Pheasant Run Circle, Pheasant Run Court, Red Fox Drive, White Fox Drive and Woodcock Court. Phase Six will bring sewers to Karen Lynn Circle.
Simpson said she chose to vote against the resolutions because the project does not reach the high-need areas first.
Rossi explained that the west-east flow dictates that sewers must be built east to west, therefore requiring that the project begin on Pine and South Westfield streets.
Dawson called the council's decision to endorse the project as a victory for those with failing septic systems who are in desperate need of sewers.
Rossi said those who choose not to hook up to the town sewers will have the option to do so at anytime once the trunk lines reach their street.
He said he does not have a timetable for the completion of the overall project but anticipates that Phase One will be finished by fall 2009.