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September 3 Set For Public Hearing On Rates, Plans For Parish Center Presented, And More at WPCA Meeting (Part II)

On August 10 we published the first part of our report on the August 6 meeting of the WPCA; see USDA Letter of Conditions, Clean Water Funding Discussed at WPCA Meeting.  Following is our report on several other items of interest to our readers from that August 6 WPCA meeting.

At their August 6 meeting the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA)  set September 3  for the Public Hearing on its proposed water rates for the next fiscal year.  The Public Hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. and it will be immediately followed by the WPCA’s regular meeting at which WPCA members expect to adopt the proposed rates.  The new rates will become effective on October 1.   Members agreed to publish the rates they had previously worked out in their June 16 special meeting; see our June 20 report WPCA Sets Proposed Rates, Moves Towards Equity.

Our reporter checked with Town Hall today, August 11, and the notice for the Public Hearing which will include the proposed water rates  is not yet available.  As soon as that notice becomes available we will publish it on NewHartfordPlus.

Father Tim O’Brien: New Parish Center Planned by Immaculate Conception Church

Father Tim O’Brien informed the WPCA members that his church is planning to build a parish center on the land next to the cemetery which had been the location of the Catholic school and the convent before those buildings had been torn down in 2002.  Father O’Brien said that the 5,000 sq. ft. [size to be confirmed] building would be used for religious education and for parish events, such as the church dinners.   Although the parish center was not going up before 2011, the church’s Building Committee was aware that sewage was going to be a concern and Father O’Brien had come to the WPCA for their input.

Father O’Brien said that the Building Committee  was looking at the following options to handle the sewage:

  1. The church could put in a septic system, which Father O’Brien said was “not a great way to go”;
  2. It could extend the sewer lines from Steele Road up to the parish house, in which case the church would have to pay a per linear foot charge, which would be very expensive;
  3. The church could hook up to sewer line if the WPCA were to extend the sewer lines up Route 219.

Regarding the third option, WPCA members said that they plan to go up to Highland Avenue, and then up to Johnnycake Lane, but they said: “Those are not our highest priority.”  Regarding the expense of hooking up users to the new sewer lines, Ken Krohner emphasized that the WPCA will be looking for grants to help with the cost of hooking up to the new lines.

Father O’Brien thanked the WPCA members for their input and left the meeting.  We will provide updates regarding the new parish center as more details become available.

Paul Grinvalsky Asks For Reduction In Number Of Units Being Charged

Paul Grinvalsky, who operates the Cornstand opposite the Town Hall, was back for the second time in front of the WPCA to ask them to reduce the number of units he was being charged for at 531 Main Street, the blue building next to the farmstand.  Paul said that he and his family occupy the third floor of the building, that the other two floors are empty, and yet he’s been charged for three units in his water and sewer bill.  He had come to the WPCA in July and CT Water was supposed to go over and verify that only one unit was being used but noone had gone over and he was still been charged for three units.

Bill Michaud said that someone had gone over and their report read that there was one resident on the third floor.  Ken Krohner told Paul that the water had checked out, there were no leaks, and he told Paul to go to the assessor who would change the records to one unit.  Bill brought up the point that for now the building is being used as only one unit, but if the building is sold, then the WPCA won’t know that the number of units have changed.  There was some discussion about the charge currently being based on a structural definition, and not on the use of the building.    However, members said that they had recently changed the number of units being charged on Frank Misiorski’s building next door to Paul, and that in all fairness they should drop the number for Paul as well.

WPCA members agreed to drop the number of units at 531 Main Street to one, and they will look at the policy again later when they rework their rate structure and policies.

Change Orders for WWTP Discussed Again

The subject of who authorizes change orders for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant has been the topic of spirited discussion several times at various meetings; see our July 14 Board of Selectmen report for one such instance.  The subject of change orders came up again at this meeting.

Roy Litchfield, a member of the Building Oversight Committee (BOC) informed everyone that although right now there are 18 change requests, there are no actual change orders awaiting approval.  He said that the BOC will make recommendations to the First Selectman for the selectmen’s signature.  Roy asked WPCA members if they really wanted to get involved in small change orders.

Bill Michaud responded that with 61% of the cost being borne by rate payers, the WPCA should have a say in changes that are made to the WWTP.  He said that the WPCA wouldn’t need to get involved in  change orders below a certain amount, but over a certain amount they would.  Roy agreed, saying that he was thinking of allowing anything up to $10,000 without input.

First Selectman Earl MacInnes said that historically, the building committees oversaw the construction projects.  He gave the example of the schools, where the Board of Education got involved minimally.

One of those present emphasized that the plant was being funded not by revenue bonds, but by general obligation bonds, which are backed by the town.

Dave Rosengren said that he was concerned about the discretionary change orders, such as a recent one for “a $150,000″ change order for screens. Denton corrected the amount to “$135,000″ and he said the screens would be reimbursed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

All agreed that they had the same goal: to keep the cost of the plant as low as possible.

Roy said they could do a report, and Dave proposed using a list of change order requests (CORs), which he said Roy must have.  Roy said he did.

Denton emphasized that even though they had 18 requests now, only a handful will be left.

With no actual change orders to approve, Roy said: “We’ll look into that (a report of CORs for the WPCA), and see what we can do.”

MDC Monthly Charge For Emergency Drinking Water: Supply Unpotable Since Early 1970s

Denton Butler reported back to the WPCA on a $109.85 per month recurring bill from the MDC which Ken Krohner had asked him to look into.  The bill was to provide the town with emergency access to supplies of drinking water by the MDC.  In 1967 New Hartford had constructed a 12″ waterline on Route 219 which ended on the western side of the East Branch of the Farmington River.  The waterline was fed by the MDC’s 48″ water main on the eastern side of the river. The recurring monthly bill had been processed by CT Water for “an unspecified period.”

Denton’s investigation found that the water coming from the MDC main is “unfiltered/untreated surface water” that was disallowed as potable drinking water due to changes in Federal standards back in the early 1970s.  Together with Jim Randazzo of the MDC, Denton made some field visits and found the following:

  • the waterline to the New Hartford pumping station vault is not in service, as defined by the MDC;
  • The meter on the MDC side was removed and the valve that would allow water to pressurize is closed and could have been inoperable for 1o years or more, according to an MDC maintenance worker;
  • Fire Chief Mark Worsman tested two fire hydrants at the vault and he confirmed that the MDC side is not pressurized.

The MDC agreed that New Hartford is due a credit but since the billing name at the MDC has not yet been changed from CT Water to the Town of New Hartford, the MDC has to deal directly with the entity on the bill, CT Water.  The amount of the credit due the town is unclear, especially since before CT Water the town was handling the water operations itself, and there are no records going back that far.  Denton calculated that for 42 years, the amount paid was $50,000; at the very least, $1,300 annually is no longer due, he concluded.

Members of the WPCA discussed the possibility of getting the line operational again, rather than just abandoning it, so that the town would have an emergency water supply if it ever needed more water for fire-fighting purposes  than it has capacity for supplying.  They decided to talk with Mark Worsman and get his input on whether the town should continue access to this emergency supply, and then to contact Ray Adamaitis at CT Water.

Paul Grinvalski working at his Corn Stand at 531 Main Street.  Photo: Maria Moore

Paul Grinvalsky working at his Corn Stand at 531 Main Street. Photo: Maria Moore

___________

Below is the agenda for the August 6 WPCA meeting:

AGENDA

  1. Minutes
  2. Father Tim O’Brien re: parish center
  3. Opportunity for Public Comment
  4. Denton Butler – re; report on MDC billing
  5. Status of USDA grant
  6. WWTP status
  7. Report on pending change orders
  8. First Selectman’s Report
  9. Proposed rates for 2009- 2010
  10. Discussion and possible action on Public Hearing date for proposed rates
  11. Accounts payable
  12. Rate Study and long term planning
  13. Any Other Business to Come Before the Board
  14. Correspondence
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  • Mike

    Nice to read that the church is going to build a parish hall on Town Hill, not sure but is there access to the back of that lot from Steele Road ?
    Reason I ask is I live on Highland Ave, and traffic tends to speed thru those S-turns by the cemetery a lot faster than they should. I’ve almost been hit a few times, can’t imagine when a busy event at the center empties out onto 219..

    “” The church could put in a septic system, which Father O’Brien said was “not a great way to go” “” ahaha, don’t know if that was intentional or not, but that made laugh right there !!

    • newhartfordplus

      I won’t even go there… Maria

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