Friday, November 7, 2003
Selectmen review wastewater plant
Paul Morrison of the School Building Committee spent the better part of an hour briefing the Board of Selectmen on the latest wastewater treatment plant information. The Selectmen took advantage of Morrison's expertise and peppered him with questions at their October 28 meeting. The first area of concern is RecCom's fear that a pipe trench will be dug across their athletic fields with resulting damage to the sprinkler system. Chair Tim Hult asked, "Is it safe to say that neither the Spalding or Banta-Davis fields will be damaged?" Morrison admitted that there could be damage to the sprinkler system, but "maybe we can zig-zag around it. The price includes putting the field back into original condition. I think any damage will be fairly minor."
"We're still on the list for 60% reimbursement from the [state School Building Assistance Bureau] SBA," Morrison continued. "$900,000 out of $1.5M." He expects the payback to kick in after seven years, but Selectman Vivian Chaput recently heard that SBAB is considering stretching the reimbursement to 10 years, which is not surprising given the state's fiscal crisis. More bad news followed, regarding annual maintenance costs that can reach $50,000 to pay a skilled operator for 1-2 hours a day of maintenance work. This caused Selectman John Ballantine to wistfully reflect on the present arrangement of monthly pumping. "What if we just keep pumping at $1,000 a month?" he whimsically inquired. Morrison explained that we have a legal requirement to replace the present system, which is still working, but in technical default. "Also, we can't expand the school without a new treatment plant," Morrison added. "We hope to eventually train a staff member to do the maintenance, so this expense will be reduced."
The winding circuitous route between the pump building next to the school and the leach field on Banta-Davis may require closing Church Street during construction. $45,000 has been included in the cost to cover repaving. Chaput, who is a real estate developer, wondered about the wastewater treatment design, which only features one pump between the treatment plant and leach field. "I have a project under construction that requires two — and it's smaller." There was also some question as to whether the school system features any redundancy in case the motor or pump burns out. This prompted Selectman Doug Stevenson to ask Morrison, "How long will this system last?" Although no reliability figures were available, Morrison expects the wastewater treatment plant to cover 50% growth in the school system. "We expect to begin operation in January of 2005," he concluded.
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