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Council to flush sewer extension project

Agawam City Council to vote on fate of Feeding Hills Sewers

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

AGAWAM After over 30 years of waiting Feeding Hills may finally get sewers.

On Sept. 17, the City Council will vote on three resolutions proposed by Mayor Susan Dawson that if endorsed would break ground on phase one of the southwest sewer extension project early next spring.

"We need to get the ball rolling on this," Dawson said, adding that permits allowing the project to proceed will expire in April 2009.

The first resolution, TR-2008-48, authorizes the town to borrow $3.73 million for construction of phase one the construction of gravity sewers traveling west on Shoemaker Lane to Route 57 and then south on South Westfield Street of this six-phase project. Phase One would build 7,600 feet of new sewer pipeline.

In a memo to Dawson from John Stone, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, last month, he explained that the $3.73 million bond will be "repaid by income generated by the wastewater operation and not the town's general revenues." He added that phase one construction would also require a 21-cent increase in the sewer use rate of $2.40.

"Taking it in phases is the only approach that makes sense because it would be far too stressful on taxpayers [otherwise]. I'm fully supportive of this approach," City Councilor Donald Rheault, also member of the council's Ad Hoc Sewer Committee, said. "If we don't implement Phase One we've lost $370,000 that we've already spent [in permitting applications and design]."

Rheault noted that the previously proposed Southwest Sewer Extension Project required that those benefiting from the project pay upwards of $18,000 per household over a 20-year period.

According to information released by Stone, Phase Two requires a pumping station on Pine Street and a force main to South Westfield Street at a cost of $3.78 million. Phase Three is estimated to cost $3.75 million and provides sewers to Bradford Drive and Tannery Drive. Phase Four would bring sewers to Kathy Terrace, Joanne Circle, Gina Drive and Barbara Lane at a cost of $3.92 million. Phase Five would extend the sewer system to Red Fox Drive, White Fox Drive, Pheasant Run Circle, Pheasant Run Court, Partridge Lane and Wood Cock Court at a cost of $3.88 million. Phase Six will bring sewer to Karen Lynn Circle for an estimated cost of $3.75 million.

"Certainly the process is long overdue," Rheault said. "Unfortunately, relief for those who need it most [that have failing septic systems] won't come tomorrow but once the shovel gets into the dirt it will be a great day for Agawam."

The second resolution, TR-2008-49 asks the City Council to adopt an Order of Public Notice for the future betterment assessment. The assessment consists of two parts, including the Special Benefit Assessment of $1,750 and the General Benefit Assessment of $807, totaling the estimated assessment for those businesses or houses within Phase One as $2,557.

Dawson noted that those home or business owners in Phase One will also have to pay approximately $1,600 if they choose to hook up to the sewer system.

The final resolution under council consideration is TR-2008-50, A Resolution Approving Sewer Connection and Service Charges Fixed by the Department of Public Works. The resolution will adjust the sewer entrance fee and wastewater fees. The rates have not been adjusted since 2002.

City Councilor Paul Cavallo said he will be voting in favor of the resolutions because of the necessity of the project. He added that once Phase One gets underway, the council will be preparing for the remaining phases to ensure that the whole project is completed.

"Economic development is one of the less important reasons [for the Southwest Sewer Extension Project]," Dawson said. "The most important reason is there are streets in need of sewers [Red Fox and White Fox Drive] and the only way of getting there is to start it now."