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Sewer expansion in Greenport pushed back another year

07/25/2016 9:00 AM |

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A plan to extend Greenport Village sewers to the Sandy Beach area off Stirling Basin will have to wait at least a year. 

The Village Board informally decided at its work session Thursday night to issue a request for proposals next week seeking cost estimates for engineering designs on the proposed sewer expansion.

Sandy Beach, which has only cesspools, is located on the edge of the water, creating possible environmental problems, and on the edge of the village boundaries. About 27 homes in the village are not connected to the sewer system.

Village officials say Sandy Beach is the only part of the incorporated village not connected to the sewer system.

An engineering company that had done an earlier feasibility study on expanding the Greenport Sewer system — Dvirka and Bartilucci — gave two price estimates for the engineering costs of the expansion, according to village administrator Paul Pallas.

One estimate included expanding the sewer to include nearby roads like Manhanset Avenue, Champlin Place and some smaller side streets that are just outside the village boundary. The other included only Sandy Beach, which includes parts of Beach Road and Beach Street.

The first estimate was more than $400,000 and the later was about $260,000, Mr. Pallas said.

The engineers included the additional roads because they felt Sandy Beach alone might not score high enough on applications to receive state grant money for the project, he said. The project was only eligible for up to $30,000 from the state grant, and the cost of actually extending the sewer hookup to these areas was “several million dollars,” he said.

The deadline to apply for the grant is July 29.

“Even if we tried to get this application approved at our next meeting, we may not have enough time to get this together,” Mr. Pallas said.

Arthur Tasker, a Beach Road resident, expressed frustration over the process.

“This is 27 village property owners and residents who need sewer systems,” he said. “This issue first came up in April and now eight or nine days short of the deadline for submitting the application and we need a whole bunch of other stuff to make the application? There is some foot dragging going on with this project.”

Trustee Doug Roberts said the $400,000 estimate for engineering services seemed high. He suggested the village issue a request for proposals for companies to do the actual work of hooking up the properties to the sewer district based on the existing engineering drawings from D&B.

Mr. Pallas said there’s a lot more involved than that.

“It’s a very detailed permitting process,” he said.

The grant is a recurring one and will be available again next year.

“Let’s not rush into this and instead do it properly next year,” said Mayor George Hubbard Jr.

He suggested the board get estimates from other firms on what the engineering costs would be on the project.

The board eventually agreed to issue a request for proposals at its regular meeting Thursday, July 28 for engineering services on the sewer expansion. In the meantime, he said, the village could also look for other possible funding sources for the project.

One possibility that’s been discussed in the past is the Community Preservation Fund, which is funded by a voter-approved two-percent land transfer tax.

There will likely be a referendum on the ballot in all five East End towns this fall to extend the end date of that tax from 2030 to 2050, and to allow up to 20 percent of the revenue to be used on water improvement projects such as sewer plant upgrades.

Bill Swiskey, a former Greenport utilities director, said the village should forget about expanding its sewer district into unincorporated areas of the hamlet and concentrate on the village.

“We really such take care of the people at Sandy Beach,” he said. “I don’t care about the people in Southold Town.”

Mr. Swiskey said he thinks the $400,000 engineering estimate is too high and that if they issued a request for proposal for engineering services and got about nine responses, they could cut the price in half.

The village had a feasibility study completed in early 2015 on the prospect of extending its sewers to 60 homes west of the village boundaries on Sixth Street, and about 75 homes north of the village boundary, as well as about 40 homes near Sterling Basin, including the Sandy Beach area.

The study concluded that it would cost about $6 million to connect all of those homes, although officials are currently only talking about the latter area as far as the possible Sandy Beach hookup.

The village sewage treatment plant is currently only at about half its maximum capacity, officials say.

The board has taken no official motion to proceed with any of those plans.

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