The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 14, 2005


School proposes new site for wastewater plant to save $$
Church Street site for wastewater plant may save $350K

In the newest installment of the on-going quest for a wastewater treatment plant for the Carlisle School, the School Building Committee (SBC) on Tuesday, January 11, made a recommendation to the Selectmen that the building site be changed. The new site behind the Church Street tennis courts would eliminate some of the factors that are believed to have driven up bids for construction of the facility.

Carlisle School Business Manager Steven Moore estimated that at least $350,000 would be saved, adding, "a better bid climate and building at a better time of year will further reduce costs."

Original site raised costs

In November, the committee was dismayed to learn that the lowest bid on the project, $2.2 million, greatly exceeded expectations, surpassing the $1.3 million approved at Town Meeting in 2003 and the estimate by consultants HTA Engineering of $1.6 million. The building was the source of much of the overbid on the project, with contractors citing the road, restrictions on access, and other site-related factors as adding to costs. The planned location of the building was the Spalding Field slope behind the Corey Building with a leaching field on the Banta-Davis Land.

Alternatives considered

Refusing to accept the bid, the SBC went back to the drawing board and examined four alternate construction sites for the facility. The goal was to "reduce the cost associated with the site work (such as the road)," according to a report presented to the Carlisle School Committee on January 5 by School Committee and School Building Committee member Christy Barbee. Under review were the planned future ball field on Banta Davis, a spot near the leaching field, and a location behind the Corey building. The chosen site behind the tennis court was determined to be the best for cost reduction as it eliminates the expensive road and would not require relocating recreational facilities; the tennis courts would stay.

The Selectmen received the plan with restrained enthusiasm. Deb Belanger thanked the committee for their hard work, but noted, "I expected the cost savings to be more." Moore said that value engineering could add to the savings, but "$500,000 is the most we could hope to squeeze out of this project." He also pointed to unknowns with the new location, including the effect of proximity to the school, the possibility of abutter opposition, and concerns by the RecCom or ConsCom. For example, the longer piping run of untreated effluent might trigger restrictions, though it was noted this is no different than the sewage lines running through most cities.

Back to septic system?

The SBC had briefly looked at building a temporary septic system, which would postpone, but not remove, the need for a wastewater treatment facility. However the current water flow is "on the edge," and any additional growth in water usage could trigger the DEP to require construction of a wastewater treatment facility immediately, according to Moore. The school is implementing a water conservation program, and may have to switch to using paper products for meals until the treatment facility is completed. Members of the committee laughed as a few mentioned Carlisle's "affluent effluent."

"Today is the day to do it."

Moore summarized, "You will build one of these some day. Today is the day to do it." The Selectmen agreed and unanimously voted to allow an amendment to the original site plan to include the new location. This will allow the SBC to move quickly on a plan with the goal of releasing new bid documents by early March in preparation for a vote on additional funding for the project at Town Meeting in May.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito