W. Windsor Wants to Build New Sewer Line

West Windsor — The town will hold a vote May 6 on a $2.1 million bond that would be coupled with a state grant to pay for building a sewer line in the village of Brownsville.

On Wednesday, the town announced that it was awarded a $750,000 community development block grant for disaster recovery by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.

An engineering firm has completed a preliminary design for the sewer line, which would connect with the existing sewer system at the Ascutney Mountain ski resort and include a pump station and connections to properties in the village.

The grant approval comes just weeks after the town finalized its purchase of the sewer system at the shuttered ski resort. That system also serves a hotel and homes on the mountain.

Selectboard Chairman Glenn Seward said Wednesday the new sewer line would improve the potential for economic development in Brownsville and also address pollution problems caused by failing septic systems.

“We have documented evidence there is pollution in Mill Brook from septic systems,” Seward said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The application for the grant highlighted the problems with septic systems in the floodplain along Mill Brook which runs along Route 44 in Brownsville on lots that are too small for replacement systems.

Additionally, wells near the septic systems threaten contamination of drinking water.

The problems were exacerbated by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, which destroyed the septic system at the fire station and at least one private residence.

“The construction of a wastewater system will protect public health and water supplies and prevent future flood damage to septic systems,” the Selectboard said in a news release Wednesday.

The other advantage is economic.

“There is no question that development potential is zero if we don’t go forward (with a wastewater system),” Seward said.

The Selectboard’s statement said in light of the closing of the ski resort in 2010 — a blow to the local economy — a sewer line would “enhance the economic outlook in the village, increase property values and provide incentive for homeowners to improve their properties.”

The line would extend from the ski resort entrance on Route 44 down to the village and up Brownsville-Hartland Road to the library and Albert Bridge School.

With enrollment increasing at the school, Seward said the school’s on-site septic system could reach capacity in three years.

If that system cannot accommodate more students, he believes the state could eye Albert Bridge for closure as part of a state plan to consolidate school districts.

“We need every advantage we can get to keep our school in town,” Seward said.

The grant must be used in 2015 or the town will lose it, Seward said.

If voters pass the bond, he anticipates permitting will be done this spring, summer and fall with the project put out to bid next winter and construction later in 2015.

From the ski resort, the sewer line continues along Route 44 to the wastewater treatment plant in Windsor.

Seward said the Selectboard will hold at least one informational meeting before the vote.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.