Facing Deadline Old Lyme Moves to Referendum

Left to right: Frank Chan (WPCA vice chair); Richard Prendergast (WPCA chair); Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal; First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder; Selectman Chris Kerr; Clerk Patti Broedlin (Credit: CT Examiner/Hewitt)


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Old Lyme — Years in the making, the town is edging closer to putting in sewers in Sound View Beach, with a referendum for a $7.44 million bond tentatively scheduled for August 14.

Richard Prendergast, chair of the Water Pollution Control Authority, and Frank Chan, vice chair, presented a draft update of the coastal wastewater project to the Board of Selectmen Monday night at town hall.

The project would install gravity-fed sewers into Hartford Avenue, Swan Avenue and Portland Avenue, as well as the contiguous “Miscellaneous Area B” north of Route 156 up to the railroad tracks. The sewers would feed to a pump station that First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder said would “hopefully share” with three other private beach associations, each with their own WPCAs — Miami Beach, Old Colony Beach and Old Lyme Shores — that are funding their own sewer projects.

The three private beach associations have drafted Intermunicipal Agreements (IMAs) with neighboring towns and the New London treatment facility. But if the town and the three associations can agree to cost-sharing agreements, it would “save everyone significant money,” according to the draft report.

The town is eligible for a 25 percent grant drawing on state and federal Clean Water Funds but must act in a timely fashion or lose eligibility, said Reemsnyder.

“We can’t wait beyond this summer because we are on the list for the state to take on this project for Clean Water Funds. They were hoping we’d go to bond last year but we didn’t because we were sensitive to not rushing this without having a lot of these answers. We have a lot more information this year than we had last year… but I don’t think we can wait beyond this year.”

The town has been on the state list for the Clean Water Fund since 2012.

“It would be a disaster if we wait, and waiting will have other consequences in terms of price,” said Prendergast, pointing out that from 2018 to 2019, the project estimate rose from $7.23 million to $7.44 million.

In the draft report, the assessment formula for Sound View was based on an average livable building square footage of 1,143 square feet, which was assigned as the Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) factor used to calculate the cost for each building. Each dwelling was assigned a minimum capital cost of $10,000 and a required connection fee of $6,000. Property owners will have the option to repay the cost all at once or over 20 years at 2%.

As part of the project, it is assumed that Connecticut Water Company will install new water lines using the Water Infrastructure and Conservation Adjustment (WICA) program, according to the draft report.

Although residents town-wide must authorize bonding of the project costs, only property owners who receive sewers will be required to repay the bond.

The town has no outstanding bonds but is paying off one loan, for the town hall renovation, according to Reemsnyder.

Prendergast said the project is a potential benefit to taxpayers town-wide because if sewers are not installed then the state could fine the town for inaction on an identified “public nuisance” of community wastewater pollution. The nuisance was identified by the state, January, 2016.  

Proposed public information sessions about the project and the referendum will be held at the middle school on June 29 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and July 16 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

If the bond referendum is approved on August 14, then design work will be scheduled for 2020 and construction is expected from 2020 through 2023.