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Enfield Sewer Project Gets Go-Ahead



Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, May 19, 2017

Enfield — Construction of a long awaited sewer extension in Enfield is now on track to begin this summer, according to the project’s engineers.

The extension, which will connect Lakeview Condominium to existing sewer lines in Lower Shaker Village, cleared a major hurdle this week when it obtained an easement to traverse Landing Road.

The easement is a “key piece of the puzzle,” allowing the 1.5-mile sewer project to move forward, said Rod Finley of Pathways Consulting, which was hired to engineer the expansion.

With the document in hand, Finley said, officials can complete remaining paperwork, choose a contractor and finish plans for construction. He predicted drilling on portions of Route 4A could begin in the next few weeks.

Crews are expected to finish hooking up Lakeview units by mid-November, Finley said, though lanscaping and other punch-list items are likely to carry over to next spring.

Obtaining the easement wasn’t an easy task, and came after several contentious meetings where town officials and Lakeview residents made pleas to get the project moving.

Lakeview’s 131 households are relying on the sewer to replace a series of leach fields that began to fail more than two years ago. Until the sewer can make it to the community, the condominium association is spending $4,500 a month to pump septic tanks, according to meeting minutes.

If more fields fail, Lakeview has estimated those costs could balloon to $21,000 a month.

But the Shaker Landing Condominium Association, which owns Landing Road about 1.5 miles north of Lakeview, also is planning to start its own sewer project. Members initially held off granting the easement in the hopes that it could draw the town into discussions of taking over a Shaker Landing-owned pump station.

During meetings between the Selectboard, Shaker Landing and Lakeview officials, Finley warned that holding off on the easement risked putting off construction for another year. To reroute the project, he predicted costs would increase $100,000 and Lakeview would be forced to wait another four months for construction.

“We don’t want to see our friends in Lakeview suffer anymore than they already have,” Shaker Landing Chairman Sandy Orr said of the board’s decision to grant the easement. “We thought it was the right thing to do for our neighbors.”

Shaker Landing units are already hooked into the system, though roughly half of the 32 homes rely on a pair of septic tanks installed during the 1960s for their noneffluent waste.

“We’d like to be able to sort of hook up and be able to take those tanks out so they won’t be in danger of leaking into the lake,” Orr said.

But there was never money for such an undertaking until voters approved a $2.5 million bond to extend the sewer line to Lakeview. After the vote, town officials came to Shaker Landing’s members asking to use Landing Road, Orr said.

In return, the town offered to help Shaker Landing obtain a low interest loan and grant from the federal government, Orr said.

“So that would save us a ton of money and could solve a lot of our problems,” he said, adding they then pursued and obtained the grant funding.

However, the deal hit trouble roughly a month ago, when the federal government demanded the town take ownership of Shaker Landing’s private pump station as part of the project. Around the same time, bids for the project came back at more than $300,000, much more than engineers were expecting.

Although Shaker Landing was willing to hand over its pump station, town officials said they weren’t interested in long-term ownership, killing the chance of obtaining federal funding.

Orr said Shaker Landing’s project is now at a standstill, and members are discussing whether to try to move ahead without the 40 percent match they expected.

“The big bone of contention with a lot of members here in the association is feeling like we kind of got duped,” Orr said. “There were a lot of people hurt and upset by these new revelations but we can’t make Lakeview suffer for what’s happened to us.”

Enfield Public Works Director Jim Taylor contested Orr’s account of the town’s position on Thursday, saying it never changed.

When Enfield approached the USDA Office of Rural Development for a grant, it agreed to take temporary ownership of the Shaker Landing pump but would transfer it back once construction is complete, Taylor said.

Initially, Rural Development agreed with the proposal, Taylor said, but later changed its mind.

The town currently owns five pump stations and spends $150,000 annually to maintain them, Taylor said. Taking on Shaker Landing’s station would not only cost money to maintain, but would also set a bad precedent for future stations that might be located along Route 4A during the Lakeview project.

Taylor conceded that the town intends to take over Lakeview’s future pump, but only because he estimates roughly 130 additional homes could use that pump.

“The town has been firm from the get go we would not be operating and maintaining (Shaker Landing’s) station,” he said.

While it’s unclear how Shaker Landing will pay for its sewer extension, they’ve asked Finley to re-bid the project in hopes of getting a better price. If Shaker Landing does choose to go ahead with its own construction, Finley said he expects construction will have to wait until after Labor Day.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.

Correction

Project engineer Rod Finley said units at Lakeview Condominium are expected to be hooked up to an Enfield sewer extension by mid-November, with landscaping and other punch-list items carrying over into the spring. In addition, all 32 units at the Shaker Landing Condominium Association are already connected to the Enfield sewer line, though some also rely on septic tanks for their noneffluent waste. An earlier version of this story misstated the schedule Finley has outlined and was unclear on the Shaker Landing linkage.