Plan for Mahackeno Y sewer connection outlined for public
Updated 5:02 pm, Thursday, February 23, 2012
Ahead of a review by town officials, Westport Weston Family Y leaders on Wednesday sought to rally support for a plan to connect the Y's new home at the Mahackeno Outdoor Center in northwest Westport to the town's sewer system.
"We think this will be good for the community," Family Y Chief Executive Officer Rob Reeves told a public forum on the proposal. "This is our preference, and we think it's the right thing to do."
The Y is seeking permission to build a 2,500-lineal-foot line, which would run north from the intersection of Oak Street and Clinton Avenue, then west along Calumet Road and Calumet Lane, under the Saugatuck River, to its new center planned at the Mahackeno property. Construction of the new 55,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin in October.
While most of the line would be pressurized, it would be gravity-operated under Clinton Avenue.
The sewer extension would also include a pumping station on the north bank of Poplar Plains Brook, near the Saugatuck River, Reeves said.
Linking to the town's sewer system would offer a more environmentally conscious option compared to installing a septic system at the 32-acre Mahackeno site, Y leaders said. A sewer connection would save more than 100 trees, which would have to be cut down to install an on-site wastewater-treatment facility at Mahackeno, according to a Feb. 16 statement from the Y. Building a sewer line to Mahackeno would also protect the Saugatuck River, as wastewater from the new facility would be transported to the town's sewage-treatment plant on Elaine Road, Y officials said.
That treatment facility's current capacity would not be strained by the Mahackeno sewer extension, said Land-Tech Consultants partner Peter Romano.
Y leaders also argued that the project would benefit some neighboring residents, who could connect to the new line without incurring assessment fees for installing the sewer extension.
Instead, residents connecting with the town sewer system along the new route would only pay for sewer use, Romano said.
The Y has already secured town and state approval to install a septic system at the Mahackeno Outdoor Center. Y leaders said Wednesday they decided, in part, not to apply for a sewer connection when their initial application was before town and state boards several years ago because that request would entail amending the town's "blue line," which delineates the extent of the town's sewer system. Seeking such a change would have prolonged the approval process for the new complex, Y leaders added.
Certain conditions of the town's approval of a septic system at Mahackeno have also made a sewer connection a more advantageous wastewater-treatment option, Y leaders said. One of those prerequisites, for instance, mandates that the Y deposit a cash bond in a town account equivalent to the cost of installing a septic system at Mahackeno, an estimated $1.2 million, Romano said.
Installing a sewer line to Mahackeno would not affect the construction schedule of the new Y center, Reeves added.
About 20 residents attended Wednesday's forum at the Y's current center in downtown Westport. Several attendees expressed support for the Y's proposed sewer connection.
"From an environmental and economic point of view, this is really desirable," said Marty Yellin. "It's much safer than what we had approved."
The Y's Mahackeno sewer connection application will first be reviewed by the Board of Selectmen acting in its capacity as the town's Water Pollution Control Authority during a public hearing scheduled for the first week of April.
In addition to the selectmen, the Y will also seek approval for a Mahackeno sewer connection from the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Conservation Commission and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
If the project wins approval from all those bodies, construction of the new sewer line would likely begin in early 2013, Y leaders added.
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