G’town readies plan for $2.4M wastewater plant upgrade

GERMANTOWN—Mary Beth Bianconi, senior project manager for Delaware Engineering, attended the February 13 Town Board meeting to update the board and audience on the latest prospects for upgrading the 21-year-old wastewater treatment plant.

A year ago, at its February 21, 2017 meeting, the board approved going ahead with the $2.43-million upgrade (2016 figure). Prior to that, the board had spent some two years reviewing the project and options.

The timeline discussed in 2017 had construction going on this year. That is not happening, but the delay has left the town eligible for a raft of new state funds for the project.

Ms. Bianconi described subsidized financing in the form of a 30-year loan at just under 2% interest (“A pretty good deal,” she said, “We will apply for that); a grant by which the town builds the project, spending the money and is then forgiven 25% of the debt; and short-term borrowing at .71% interest, for construction (“It’s like a line of credit,” said Ms. Bianconi; “you draw what you need as you go along.”)

The project is being designed now, she reported, saying that should last until the middle of the year. Regulatory approvals will be sought in the fall, bids put out in the winter and construction done in 2019. “It’s a straightforward project, that can be done in a year,” she said. The current wastewater treatment plant is “much larger” than the town needs, so there should be “no disruption during construction.”

The application deadline for the funds is in June. Prior to that, the town needs to map exactly where the sewer district is. The sewer district is a taxing jurisdiction that allows users to be charged. A very small number of properties were discovered to be either in the district but not connected or connected but not paying.

The board approved a Public Hearing on Tuesday, March 13 at 6:45 p.m. to authorize the Extension Report, with a map and a plan that modifies the district to match the map. No property now in the district will have its rates raised or lowered because of this report, Supervisor Robert Beaury said before the February 13 meeting.

In answer to a question, Ms. Bianconi said that in state-supported projects, the goal is to have minority or women-owned businesses do 20% to 30% of the work. “There are a lot of women-owned businesses, she said. “The challenge is finding a minority business. A company in Brooklyn won’t come up here for a couple of days’ work. We make a good-faith effort to find them, and if we can’t, we ask for a waiver.”

In other business, the board:

• Scheduled a Town Board workshop meeting on Wednesday, February 28 at 9 a.m. with representatives of the Little League and with the town’s Maintenance Department to “look seriously” at the town’s ballfields and parks. Currently, the Germantown fields are not in compliance with what the Little League needs for 11- and 12-year old players. Mr. Beaury would like to see town parks addressed also

• Approved unanimously the extension of the real property exemption for cold war veterans

• Approved unanimously referring the proposals on commercial events and on solar farms to the Planning Board, before final action is taken by the Town Board. Despite this action, residents continued to discuss the commercial events proposal during the meeting’s public comment period.

“This has been referred to the Planning Board,” Mr. Beaury said. That board would receive the file with all the comments to date, he said, and “they’re going to have to wrestle that one to the ground”

• Confirmed that the revised Comprehensive Plan has been referred to the county Planning Board for review. When the plan comes back, the Town Board will schedule a Public Hearing on the final draft

• Reappointed Richard Dale Hinkein to the Columbia County Traffic Safety Board and appointed Thomas Shannon to the History Committee

• Ended the meeting with an executive session that ran for about 50 minutes, and did no business after that.

The full board and an audience of about two-dozen attended the meeting. The next regular board meeting is Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m., after the Public Hearing on the sewer district extension report.

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