Board approves grant application for sewers

SOUTHWICK – A plan to meet a Department of Environmental Protection mandate to bring sewers to the Southwick schools campus is still under consideration.
The Sewer Implementation Committee presented a plan to connect the schools to the sewer, build a new pump station, and serve area residents if they choose to hook into the sewer system.
Committee member Gerald Patria said this plan, known as Alternate A, would give the community “the best bang for the buck.”
“The best part, is there are not betterment fees,” Patria said.
A plan including potentially high betterment fees to all residents in the area of the new sewer lines was voted down at the Spring Town Meeting. Patria said instead of a betterment fee charged to all, a connection fee would be charged to residents only if and when they hook up to the sewer.
“It’s a pretty good plan,” Patria said.
Cost to install this plan, which is part of Phase II of the sewer system, is about $2.4 million, approximately $1 million of this would be paid by the school department. Department of Public Works Director Randy Brown said there was also an opportunity to have 25-percent of costs through a grant.
Selectman Russell Fox was concerned that there was no definite connection fee and real cost yet.
“We need to go to Town Meeting and say ‘This is what it costs’,” he said.
Fox was also concerned about equity because Phase I of the sewer plan charged a betterment fee, so everyone had to pay for the line even if they were not connecting. With this plan, residents would not pay unless they connected. Residents can choose to connect, however, if their septic system fails, the law states they must connect.
The Board this week authorized Brown to apply for a grant and agreed they would like to have actual costs, if possible, before placing an article on the Town Meeting warrant.

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