130 responses could benefit town project

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 9:00am
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As of last week, only 30 surveys sent out by the Block Island Water Company had been returned. The surveys were sent to year-round residents living in the water and sewer districts, with a needed compliance rate of 69 percent, so that the Water Department can gain access to USDA loan and grant programs to fund the replacement of a 3,800-foot asbestos concrete water main that runs between the driveway into Payne Farm and the Eureka on High Street. 

The survey is to gather data on the median income for households in the service area of the water district. According to the minutes of the joint Water and Sewer Commission’s meeting on Jan. 22: “The section of water main has a high consequence of failure because it is the main trunk water main. There is no way to divert water to the rest of the distribution system and a break would result in a shutdown for the entire water district until a repair was made.”

The project has an estimated cost of $2.2 million.

The lack of response to the survey is, so far, not causing any panic. Water Supt. John Breunig said he would “wait until mid-March and will assess then.” He said that they will be given a list of those who have not responded so that they can approach specific people to entice them to fill the survey out.

“Do we have a deadline?” asked Commissioner Kathy Szabo?

Breunig said there was no deadline in returning the survey, but there was a September deadline to apply for a USDA grant. “There is some haste to it.” He suggested that the Commissioners “reach out to people” to encourage them to fill out the survey.

Anybody who received a survey and either misplaced or threw it out, but would like to respond, they can call Breunig at the Water Company and he will get a replacement out to them. “I’ll hand-deliver it,” he said.

Breunig would also like for those affected to know that work on the bridge on Old Town Road will begin soon, requiring the shut off of water to customers in the area for one day. That shut-off will occur sometime in the next two weeks.

Gaffetts get approval

Lew Gaffett came before the Commissions requesting approval for a connection to the town’s sewer and waterlines for his new Old Island Pub, which is currently in construction on Ocean Avenue. Sewer Chair Peter McNerney said that Gaffett “will be connected directly to the street.”  The design for the connections were submitted by civil engineer CJ Doyle, and reviewed by town Engineer James Geremia.

Although McNerney wished to issue the permit right away, Sewer Supt. Chris Blane said a permit couldn’t be issued until a R.I. Department of Transportation permit was obtained. “There’s no way to issue a permit until then,” said Blane. 

The Commissioners amended their motion to make the permit contingent upon receiving the required permits from the state for “opening the road.”

The Commissioners also approved an abatement for 18,000 gallons of water that leaked from the Visitor Center in Old Harbor. An exterior hose bib behind the building froze and burst on Jan. 20. Since the water spilled onto the ground, and did not enter the sewer, the $198.36 sewer charge was waived.