Germantown opts for ‘bombproof’ sewer upgrade

GERMANTOWN–The Town Board just managed a quorum for its February 21 meeting, but that did not stop those present from moving forward with several projects. Attending were Supervisor Joel Craig and board members Brittany DuFresne and Ron Moore III. Absent were board members Andrea Foley and Matthew Phelan.

The board approved moving ahead with an upgrade to the 20-year-old wastewater treatment plant. Mary Beth Bianconi, senior project manager of Delaware Engineering, P.C., in Albany, attended the meeting to review the need for the plant’s renovation, the history of research done for funding, a timeline and costs.

The board has already spent some two years considering this project and evaluated a couple of different options. Metal tanks, such as those now at the plant, rust, so the board chose to build a concrete tank, which lasts longer but is more expensive.

The town applied for state financing, but proved ineligible. State funding is aimed at towns with environmental problems and lack of funds; Germantown suffers from neither.

The town can issue bonds to pay for the project so the board decided to go ahead with the project, using Delaware as its engineers. Ms. Bianconi will draw up the necessary paperwork. The town will schedule a public hearing and then conduct a state environmental quality review (SEQR). An upgrade like this, said Ms. Bianconi, is not negative to the environment and “not usually a SEQR issue.”

After six months to draft engineering plans, regulatory approvals would come in late summer and fall of this year. Next winter the work would go out to bid. “You have plenty of good local qualified contractors,” said Ms. Bianconi, who works on this kind of project throughout the region. She expected the town to award the job at this time next year; ground would be broken in the spring of 2018. The plant would not go off line while renovations were being done, and the upgrade would be online at the end of next year.

An audience member asked about the cost.

Of the three alternatives considered, said Ms. Bianconi, the first would cost $1.932 million (in 2016). The debt service would be $372 per household, on top of the $330 that each household pays per year for sewer use.

Households on the sewer system are currently paying debt service from a previous renovation, which will be completed next year.

A second alternative added some steel and some service life, for a cost of $2.25 million, and a debt service of $440 per household per year.

“The bombproof one,” as Ms. Biancoli called it, is the chosen plan, which uses concrete and also includes some automation, a set of alarms, and the ability to generate regular reports from a computer that collects the information. That costs $2.43 million, with a debt service of $468. The total is $798, or just $34 more per year than users are now paying, with the current debt service.

In response to a worried question, Ms. Bianconi confirmed that only households that use the sewer pay for it. The board has looked into expanding the sewer district, but the town doesn’t have the density needed to make a system pay for itself.

“A sewer is good for the environment and good for development, but it’s expensive,” said Ms. Bianconi. “Germantown’s annual cost is less than the statewide annual cost. Statewide, the average this year is just under $1,000 per year, and [at $798] you’re under that average,” she said.

In other business, the board:

• Approved $26,000 for seven new streetlights in the hamlet area. Only one bid came in, from Point Source Group, “a full-service lighting manufacturer’s representative” in Rochester

• Set a public hearing for Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m., before the next Town Board meeting, on revisions to the Local Junk Law. The law was adopted several years ago, said Mr. Craig, and needs updating. The draft will be on the town website before the hearing. The description of what constitutes junk will not change, said Mr. Craig, but the steps in the process for getting it cleaned up will be revised

• Approved a five year-lease on a new mower from Keil Equipment Company, Inc., for $19,203 per year. The old mower will be sold as surplus

• Discussed with Steve Bimbo, president of Hudson River Air Dogs, a canine athletic sports club based in Livingston, the group’s efforts to find and prepare a site near the town park for dog dock jumping. Group representatives have met with contractors, filled out a short SEQR form and mailed the one neighbor next to the site they’re considering.

Ms. DuFresne said the Parks Commission had some funds to help with fencing. These are funds separate from the town budget; no town money will be spent on the project. What remains is for the town to work out an agreement for use of the town property and schedule a public hearing

• Despite Mr. Craig’s saying that he was not ready to appoint a new member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, Ms. DuFresne and Mr. Moore moved, seconded and voted in Randy Phelan, a cousin of Matthew Phelan. Mr. Craig voted against the appointment “because of the method, not the candidate,” he said. The appointment did not go through, Mr. Craig said after the meeting, because such appointments require a majority of the full board (3), not a majority of those attending a meeting

• Despite all the efforts of many volunteers, there was no ice skating in Germantown again this year

• Volunteers are still sought for the county Office for the Aging Advisory Council, the country Traffic Safety Board and the town Ethics Committee. Those interested should call Town Hall, 518 537-6687.

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