School sewer system solution sought

Ron Michalski of Tighe & Bond speaks to the Southwick Select Board about the parallel sewer interceptor project and options for how the school department could hook into it. (Photo by Hope E. Tremblay)

SOUTHWICK – As the town moves forward with the parallel sewer interceptor project, questions about whether or not the school department will connect to it remain a concern.
Ron Michalski of Tighe & Bonds spoke to the Board of Selectmen recently and said the school is required to either use the sewer system or build a sewage treatment plant.
“But we need the parallel sewer interceptor first,” Michalski said of the option of hooking up to the sewer.
Michalski said he was asked to provide a budget for the Powder Mill sewer area and said it will be in the $400,000 range.
“That’s for the design of the entire Powder Mill/Route 57 sewer project as shown on plans designed in 2005,” Michalski said, adding, “There are options.”
Michalski said the school department has prepared design plans showing a connection to a pump station off School Road.
“Somebody needs to connect with the schools to make sure that yes, they want to connect to the sewer,” Michalski said.
Department of Public Works Director Jeffrey Neece said the schools need to commit either way.
“The schools are under a legal document to build a sewage treatment plant or connect to sewers by a certain date,” Neece said. “I don’t think it’s a negotiation point.”
Neece said he believes the best option for the schools is to connect to sewers.
Since that board meeting, Southwick Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart met with Superintendent John Barry and other town and school representative, along with Tighe & Bond, to discuss how to move forward.
“We need to look at some options,” Stinehart said. “I asked Tighe & Bond to submit to the Board of Selectmen, as the sewer commissioners, a scope of services,” Stinehart said during the March 11 board meeting. “If you vote on this tonight, they will begin working on it and come back next Monday so you can view the options and vote so we can bring it to the school department.”
The board unanimously approved the request.
Barry said he was happy to hear the result of Monday’s meeting.
“That’s what we hoped would happen,” he said. “That the town would authorize an expedient study of how they want to plan future works on the sewer system.”
Barry said while there is a legal document regarding the building of a wastewater treatment plant, the school is “not going in that direction.”
Barry said the department’s current septic system has been inspected, passed and is functioning for the schools’ needs. He added that while the school department does want to hook up to the town’s sewer system, he understands it will take time.
“We have to be fair and considerate with the pace of the town,” said Barry. “We’d like to hook up to it in a reasonable time frame.”

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