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Consultants: Riverside Sewer District Would Cost $3.75 Million

Carol Morgan
The Southampton Press

Environmental consultants said this week that it would cost $3.75 million to install a sewer system to service the Riverside business corridor, and recommended that the required treatment plant be placed on about two acres of Southampton Town-owned land to the south of the State Trooper barracks.

Mary Anne Taylor, an associate with CDM Smith in Massachusetts, and Nicholas Bono, a representative of the Melville engineering firm H2M, presented the draft of their study to members of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association on Monday evening, nearly two years after they were hired by Suffolk County to determine the feasibility and cost of installing a sewer system.

Installing such a system, they said, would be the first step in redeveloping the Riverside area, which is a shared goal of the town and county, while also protecting local waterways. The recommended system would take about six years to install, the consultants said. It would first need approval from the town, county and the state comptroller, the latter of which would be keeping tabs on the associated tax impact on property owners, and those who own property within the proposed sewer district would need to approve it via a referendum.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who attended the meeting, acknowledged the need for securing a substantial amount of grant money in order to make the system’s installation a reasonable goal. He said there is about $4 million available in county grants for such a project, and that he would make it his goal to apply for such funds, as well as additional grants.

“I don’t think it’s outrageous to try to get the $4 million for it,” Mr. Schneiderman said on Tuesday.

According to Mr. Bono, the next step would be for the town to procure a master developer who would coordinate and oversee the plans.

Still, even after the infrastructure is funded, the sewage system would require the property owners within the district to pay for its operation and maintenance. In addition to paying one-time hook-up costs, which could total several thousand dollars, residential property owners could pay about $760 per year for the service, while commercial business owners could expect to pay more than $4,000 per annum, the consultants estimated. The owners of restaurants and bars, however, could expect to pay about $13,000 a year.

But Mr. Schneiderman explained that the ultimate goal is to redevelop the corridor, which would span a section of Flanders Road near the traffic circle, under a town-approved mixed use planned development district. If that happens, the maintenance and operation costs could be more evenly distributed among business owners, who would then have the opportunity to make more money by attracting tenants and constructing apartments above their businesses.

Mr. Schneiderman also stressed that such development, which is possible only with a sewer system, would increase the hamlet’s tax base, reducing the school taxes paid by homeowners. He added that any increases in property assessments would be offset by the new income the district would generate.

“I’m 100 percent confident that the numbers will work out in their favor, particularly if the infrastructure is fully funded,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

He explained that one of his goals is to attract a supermarket to the community, and even suggested that the town consider permitting the construction of one on the same property as the Budget Host Inn. “The town has to change the zoning to allow for what the community wants,” he said.

The consultants explained that they began the study by outlining the boundaries of the proposed sewer district, which was ultimately narrowed down to include just the strip of about 16 properties south of Flanders Road and between the traffic circle and Vail Avenue, as well as the site of a proposed supermarket off Lake Avenue. They called that recommended boundary the “Phase I” study area, which currently includes residential and mostly vacant commercial properties. Sewering a larger district that also included a nearby industrial park and parts of Flanders would cost millions more, they said.

They also began with six potential sites for the sewage treatment plant, but ruled out all but one due to their size or proximity to neighborhoods or waterways. Ultimately, they were left with just one feasible site: the town owned lot near the barracks.

They recommended that the Nitrex system be selected from the list of Suffolk County-approved wastewater treatment systems because of its ability to handle the estimated flow of 15,000 gallons per day that would be discharged if the study area were redeveloped. It would also reduce effluent nitrogen levels down to less than 10 milligrams per liter, meeting county requirements.

The consultants recommended that a low pressure collection system be installed to pump the wastewater to the treatment facility, because there are greater costs with installing other alternatives. That system requires that each property owner install a “grinder pump station,” which costs thousand of dollars. The Suffolk County Department of Public Works instead recommended that the consultants include those expenses in the overall capital cost, so that it may be funded over the course of several years and without placing that burden on the property owners, according to the study.

Ms. Taylor and Mr. Bono explained that they researched the possibility of treating the waste produced by the Riverside district at two sewage treatment plants located at the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College, located in Northampton. However, neither facility has the capacity to do so.

The consultants encouraged any community members with questions about the sewer district to contact them at info@suffolksewerstudy.cdmims.com.

Candidates Debate

Also on Monday, seven candidates for Southampton Town Trustee and the two candidates for Southampton Town Highway Superintendent briefly introduced themselves to those in attendance and outlined their election goals.

Incumbent Town Trustees Ed Warner Jr., a Republican, Eric Shultz, a Democrat, and Bill Pell, an Independence Party member, were joined by Republican newcomers Scott Horowitz and Ray Overton, as well as Democrats Howard Pickerel and John Bouvier. The incumbents stressed the need for support from the Town Board, which Mr. Pell called their “biggest hurdle,” and suggested establishing a separate tax line for the Trustees. Mr. Pickerel pitched the idea of placing educational stickers on boats to teach boaters about the local ecology, while Mr. Overton said he would bring the Trustees’ mission into local classrooms in order to draw more attention and awareness to the issues.

The only Town Trustee candidate not in attendance on Monday was Bill Brauninger of North Haven, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party after incumbent Fred Havemeyer dropped out of the race.

Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor touted his record, stating that he has performed well despite the obstacles posed by hurricanes Irene and Sandy. He explained that this year his department will be giving away paper bags for leaves that the highway department will pick up. Landscapers will receive a voucher that can be used at the town’s transfer stations, he added.

Republican David Betts, who is the town’s chief code enforcement officer, is challenging Mr. Gregor in November. Mr. Betts said his years of experience in public service make him a good candidate for the job and, if elected, said he would seek out grants that could aid in the upkeep and upgrading of town roads.