Pomfret solidifies roads for second phase of water district

The streets participating in Phase II of the town of Pomfret’s North End Water District were officially finalized Wednesday evening with a standing-room-only audience looking on.

The Pomfret Town Board unanimously approved the first of five options given to it by Wendel Engineering. Phase II will put 33,646 feet of water lines into the ground and will service up to 98 new customers and 52 current public water customers already in the Berry Road Water District.

The roads to be included are: Lamberton Road (from Route 20 to Lowell Road), Lowell Road, North Road (from Route 20 to the railroad), Farel Road (from Route 20 to Berry Road), Webster Road (from Rood Road to Ellicott Road), Marthas Vineyard Drive and Berry Road (the portion within the Berry Road Water District; the existing line there will be slip-lined to improve the poor water quality).

“I hope the audience here understands this is a horrible decision for us to make,” Councilwoman Ann Eckman told the residents, most of whom lived in the two water districts. “I wanted as many people included as possible, but … (raising costs too much) could endanger the entire Phase II because it could be looked at as weakening our grant application.”

Supervisor Donald Steger added the first option “continues building on the infrastructure from where we have it now existing (in Phase I) to help it spread farther in the next phase.”

The official price tag for Phase II will be $3,158,788, now that the location has been set in stone.

With a hardship application deadline of March 1, Wendel engineers Lauren Glose and Robert Klavoon, as well as Wendel Corporate Vice President Gerald Summe, are hoping to secure an almost $2 million grant, along with zero percent financing for a 30-year loan, in order to keep all these roads included in the second phase while still maintaining cost levels for water customers. The fourth and fifth options exceeded that $2 million ceiling for the grant, so the engineers did not recommend those as the board’s first choices.

“What we did is we kept everybody at the same (yearly) target service charge of $300 per single family home, not including water usage,” Klavoon stated, adding the water usage component for a single-family home would be $225.

Glose explained how the five potential options for the road list were brought about.

“A big part of what we looked at were survey responses we received from residents within the potential Phase II roads,” she explained. “We also took input from the public information meeting (held last month), in addition to phone calls placed by the residents to us for their input as to what roads were in need of water.”

Glose added many residents brought in well water samples for the engineers to examine. Hydraulics and affordability also came into play for the engineers’ options.

“Our primary recommendation was keeping that target service charge the same as it is for the Phase I residents because that charge affects everyone in the water district,” she said. “So, when it is changed, it is changed for everyone in the district.”

That service charge may increase depending on if the project does not receive the full $2 million in its grant, according to the engineers. Berry Road, since it is located within a separate water district, would have a service charge increase from $0 to $285, not including water usage.

“The bond is currently paid off on the Berry Road Water District, so a 30-year bond will be put back on their district there,” Klavoon explained.

“The rationale for doing Option One is the fact that, with the poor quality of water in Berry, the two water districts will be helping each other in the hardship application, meaning we may better qualify for grant dollars,” Summe added. Wendel’s third option eliminated Berry Road from the list.

Once the hardship application is submitted, Wendel expects to hear the funding decision and grant amount for Phase II on Oct. 1.

The next board meeting is March 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall.

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