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Dec 11, 2017 12:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Can Start Applying For Sewer District Grants

Village Board members listen at the meeting. KATE RIGA
Dec 12, 2017 1:03 PM

The Westhampton Beach Village Board took another decisive step last week toward creating a sewer district in the downtown business district.

Members passed a resolution at their meeting last Thursday, December 7, allowing them to spend $150,000 from the village’s capital fund to pay for an engineering design report that focuses on the “sanitary collection, conveyance and treatment infrastructure” associated with the first phase of the sewer system. It is expected to run $16.75 million but covers the bulk of the project’s startup costs.

The document is the last one that requires approval from the board before it can advance plans to apply for various grants. According to the village’s conservative cost model, officials would still need to borrow roughly $12.8 million over 30 years to finance the project, with the remainder, or about $4 million, paid for with grants.

H2M Architects + Engineers in Melville, the firm overseeing the sewer project, will complete the report.

Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore emphasized that the newly funded document is separate from the “design plan” for the sewer system, which will have detailed engineering specifics and surveys, and will not be drawn up until grants are secured. She added that the design report is a much more preliminary document.

“The design report is just required to apply for grants,” Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore said after a village resident, Michael Nobiletti, asked why residents do not have a say on whether the village should spend the $150,000.

She also noted that the public could possibly vote on the sewer district proposal through a permissive referendum, though that process would require that project opponents circulate a petition and secure the signatures of at least 20 percent of registered voters in Westhampton Beach.

“What we just authorized is probably best described as a next step or extension of the prior authorization for work done to date, which is to lay out the project with enough detail to be taken seriously, but without the detail needed to build it,” Village Trustee Brian Tymann wrote in an email on Friday. “A construction company could not start installing [the sewer system] based on this design plan.”

The $150,000 to pay for the design report comes from a capital fund technically earmarked for a separate Main Street reconstruction project, though Mr. Tymann said the village’s lawyers have advised board members that it is still a suitable expenditure. Ms. Moore added that the fund was formally called the “Capital Improvement Projects Fund,” which holds money that could be spent on any village project, such as the sewer system.

Once they approve the completed design report, Village Board members would be able to apply for a multitude of grants, including the New York State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA) grant administered by the Environmental Facilities Corporation, which, if secured, would cover 25 percent of the cost of the project’s first phase. That application is due in June 2018.

Though the current conservative cost estimates of the sewer project are all based on the WIIA grant alone, the board is also applying for a few other grants as well that, if secured, would lower the amount of funding that would have to be bonded. These grants include one from the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Improvement Project and the Suffolk County Sewer Infrastructure Program, both due in July 2018. Village officials will also apply for money from the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund, which has no set due date.

According to Ms. Moore, with the completed design report, the village will have everything it needs to start the grant application process; she noted that it has already passed a sewer system formulation resolution, secured a determination letter from the New York State Historic Preservation Office, and obtained an environmental review determination.

Though village officials are getting close to applying for the grants, ground is not expected to be broken on the sewer district until late 2021 at the earliest, with a tentative spring 2022 completion date.

The first phase of work, if ultimately approved, calls for the sewering of the entirety of Main Street, as well as portions of Sunset Avenue, Mitchell Road and Library Avenue, and the connection of a pair of condominium complexes overlooking Moniebogue Canal to the south.

Specifically, the initial $16.5 million cost would include the installation of two “gravity pumps” on Main Street and Glovers Lane, and the laying of more than 2.6 miles of 4-inch-wide piping to carry the raw sewage to the treatment plant at Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton. Suffolk County, which owns the airport, has already agreed to reserve up to 60,000 gallons of effluent each day at the plant for the sewer district, an agreement that allows the village to avoid the expense of building its own treatment facility.

In turn, the village has agreed to pay for an expansion of the county’s sewage treatment facility, an estimated $2.6 million undertaking that is included in the $16.75 million startup costs. That work would increase the plant’s capacity by 50 percent to 150,000 gallons daily.

Phases two and three of the village plan, while still hypothetical, would entail sewering areas north of Main Street and centered on Montauk Highway. The fourth phase encourages village homeowners—those who would not be directly connected to sewers—to voluntarily replace their antiquated cesspools with modern containment systems by taking advantage of grants. The fourth phase is planned to proceed concurrently with the first phase, based on the willingness of homeowners to install the new systems.

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Some of the buildings on Main Street are decades old and sitting on basically swampland. The Village needs to photograph and document the condition of all foundations of the buildings on Main Street both in front of the buildings for the Main Street storm drains, sewer pipe, road reconstruction, sidewalk replacement, tree removal, and burying of electrical lines work to insure there are no pre-existing cracks or compromises in the foundations, walls, ceilings, or roofs of those buildings.

This ...more
By Bobt (48), WHB on Dec 12, 17 7:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Article in the Press right now about a possible sewer system in Montauk. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see any mention of Montauk homeowners who won't be able to connect to the sewer system helping to foot the bill for the Main Street sewer system.
By st (129), westhampton beach on Dec 13, 17 8:12 AM