SOUTHWICK – Extending the town’s sewer project is contingent on construction of a 3,800-foot pipe that connects to the Westfield wastewater treatment plant, and voters will have the opportunity to approve this crucial infrastructure at Town Meeting on Oct. 10.
Informational sessions on the project and warrant article are set for Monday at 7 p.m. at the American Inn and Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Land Use Hearing Room at Town Hall.
The parallel sewer interceptor pipe comes at a cost of $2.2 million, of which $2,070,000 will be financed by the US Rural Development office. The financing consists of a grant of $621,000 and a 40-year loan of $1,449,000 at 2.75%. This leaves $67,500 for the town to fund.
According to Tighe and Bond’s Ron Michalski, for the next few years the $67,500 cost will be paid for using a combination of Westfield Gas and Electric easement funds and existing sewer retained earnings. In the future, the project will be financed by betterment assessments that will be charged to future sewer users. The town’s general fund will not be used to finance the project.
The pipe is needed because Southwick’s needs exceed the capacity allowed in the current pipe, and Westfield needs its pipe back.
In l998, Southwick negotiated an agreement with Westfield to purchase 500,000 gallons of sewage capacity at the Westfield treatment plant. Southwick’s cost for the sewage capacity was about $5,400,000. To utilize the capacity, Southwick constructed a 21-inch sewer pipe along the old railroad bed from Depot Street in Southwick to South Meadow Street in Westfield where Southwick temporarily tied into to an old 12-inch Westfield sewer pipe that connected to the Westfield treatment plant.
The temporary connection allowed Southwick to transport 175,000 gallons of sewage to Westfield without constructing the last 3,800 feet of 21-inch sewer pipe in Westfield that was expensive because of two river crossing and a crossing of Route 20. In 2012, Westfield needs the capacity in the borrowed pipe plus Southwick has sewer needs that will exceed 175,000 gallons. Thus, Southwick needs to construct the sewer pipe in Westfield to comply with the terms of the agreement and to allow future extensions in Southwick.
Westfield City Engineer Mark Cressotti said at the time Southwick began bringing sewers to the town it entered an agreement with Westfield to discharge a certain amount from Southwick’s pipe into Westfield’s.
“It is a pre-existing 12-inch sewer main in the area along Southwick Road from the Southwick line to Little River,” Cressotti said. “(The pipe) was underutilized at the time Southwick was looking to initiate sewers in their community.”
Cressotti said that is no longer the case and Westfield can use the pipe for its own purposes. Cressotti also said that Southwick’s expanded sewer system would be beyond the amount of discharge the communities agreed to and Southwick needs to connect directly to the sewer treatment facility.
The design and permitting of the 3,800 foot project is complete and easements in Westfield have been acquired. The project is ready for construction bidding and actual construction in 2013.
If the Special Town Meeting authorizes funds for the project, the project will be bid in the winter of 2012/2013, a construction contract will be awarded in March of 2013 and the project constructed over the next 6 months with an anticipated construction completion date of the fall of 2013.
The parallel interceptor will allow the town to expand its sewer system to Phase II, which would bring sewers to the north and west sides of North Pond and nearby areas down to Lakewood Village, Powdermill Road, Fernwood, Birchwood, Pineywood areas, the school campus, and portions of Feeding Hills Road, Hudson Drive and Gargon Terrace, Congamond Road and the area of College Highway.
“Without this, there is no Phase II project,” Selectman Russell Fox said.
Attendance at the informational meetings by all residents and interested parties is encouraged.