Letter to the editor: Pittsford sewer bond

The voters of Pittsford will soon have the opportunity to vote on a proposed sewer system bond issue. As set forth in Article 12 of the Town Meeting Warning, the Town hopes to move forward with a project to (a) replace two old and unreliable sewer pump stations located on Depot Hill Road with a single new pump station and to install associated new underground pipelines and (b) install energy-efficient (cost-saving) upgrades at the Wastewater Treatment Facility to make better use of the aeration units and improve the biological processes through which sewage is treated before the effluent’s eventual discharge from the plant.

The project engineer’s cost estimate of $970,000 will be offset to a substantial degree by state or federal grants.  The Town will seek out the best financing package available through either the state (low-interest loans and partial loan forgiveness are possible) or the federal government (low-interest loans and grants are possible). A positive bond vote will help to secure these funds. 

Of the $970,000 cost estimate, $625,000 is devoted to pump station and pipeline replacement, while approximately $75,000 is devoted to upgrades at the wastewater facility. Fully 15 percent of the project’s estimated cost constitutes a contingency for unexpected costs, while the balance is associated with engineering, permitting and other technical costs.

After much discussion and deliberation over nearly a decade, the Water & Sewer Commission has decided to move forward with this project at this time because neither Depot Hill pump station is performing up to today’s standards. The main pump station is approximately 50 years old while the other pump station was given to the town by a private condominium association over a quarter-century ago with little in the way of documentation. In recent years, these pump stations have required increasing maintenance, which means growing costs and increasing risk to town staff, which must enter into underground confined spaces to keep them running. It is just a matter of time before one or both fail altogether, with dire consequences likely.

While it is the sewer ratepayers who will be responsible to pay the indebtedness created by this project, all Pittsford voters are eligible to vote on the bond issue. That’s because both potential project funders (the state and federal governments) accept only general obligation bonds, with the entire town guaranteeing repayment.

The Town’s Water & Sewer Commission has already held the first of two public hearings on this matter. The second and final public hearing will take place as part of Town Meeting, to be held on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lothrop School Gymnasium.

Along with the Pittsford Select Board, the Water & Sewer Commission and the Town Manager, also present to speak on this matter and field questions will be project engineer John Kiernan of Otter Creek Engineering and the Town’s Chief Wastewater Operator Shawn Hendee.

We hope that you will consider casting a vote in favor of this important project.

Thank you.

John Haverstock,

Pittsford Town Manager

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