Water company applies for USDA loan for pipe line

Sat, 02/15/2020 - 2:45pm

As the Block Island Water Company prepares for an upcoming vote on securing a bond for a $2.3 million water main project, Supt. John Breunig said that paperwork has been filed with the U. S. Department of Agriculture to help secure some grant money to pay for some of the cost.

“The USDA application has been submitted, which is exciting,” said Breunig. “Things are looking good for our timeline.” Breunig said that after the application had been filed, the USDA asked for additional documents, as well as changes to submitted documents, and other clarifications. Despite that, Breunig said the project was still on track. The USDA grant will cover about 45 percent of the total cost of the project, or about $1 million.

The Water Commission had recommended, and the Town Council approved, a warrant for a Special Town Meeting on Monday, March 23. Voters will be asked two questions at that meeting: to approve bonding authority for the Payne Road/High Street water main project, and to approve paying for 25 percent of the loan portion of the project — the remaining $1.3 million if the USDA grant monies come through. If the first question is approved, that will give the water company the authority to issue a bond for the entire cost of the project, in case question two is not approved by voters.

The water company and Town Council have recommended that all voters in the town participate in the project because the water main feeds the downtown business district and is therefore beneficial to the entire community.

According to a note issued by the Water Company on Jan. 30, “The Water District is planning to replace its oldest infrastructure, a deteriorating asbestos concrete water main installed in the early 70s that serves most of its customer base and the entire downtown area… The project must be completed before the water main deteriorates further and creates long water service disruption for water customers.”

The Special Financial Town Meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The questions on the ballot will only concern the water main project.

Breunig had special praise for Town Finance Director Amy Land and Town Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick for keeping the project moving along and preparing the special March meeting.

“This has put a lot of work on them,” Breunig said, “And I just wanted to applaud Amy and Molly.”