With October targeted as the start of construction for a new Westport Weston Family Y at the Camp Mahackeno property, Y leaders are seeking approval to connect the facility to the town's municipal sewer system.

The Y's proposal envisions extending a sewer line to the new center either under Lee's Pond or under Wilton Road. If approved by the town's Board of Selectmen, a Mahackeno sewer connection would supplant the Y's current plan to install an in-ground septic system. Both the town and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have approved a septic system at Mahackeno.

"We have the opportunity to do something that might be preferable to others, and it certainly is to us," Family Y Chief Executive Officer Rob Reeves said of the Y's sewer proposal. "But it doesn't mean that we don't think what we have approved will work. It will work."

Reeves and other Y leaders argue that connecting the new Y to the town's sewer system would have several advantages compared to setting up a septic system at the 32-acre Mahackeno site. A sewer connection would save more than 100 trees, which would have to be cut down to install the septic system at Mahackeno, Y leaders said in a Feb. 16 statement. Establishing a sewer connection for Mahackeno would also protect the Saugatuck River, as wastewater from the new facility would be transported to the town's sewage treatment facility, Y officials said. Building a sewer line to Mahackeno would also cost less than installing a septic system for the Y and would avoid town expenditures associated with monitoring a septic system, the Y's statement also said.

Installing a sewer line to Mahackeno would not affect the construction schedule of the new Y center, Reeves said.

If the town were to approve a sewer line extension under Lee's Pond, a part of the Saugatuck River, that route could enable nearby residences to connect to the municipal sewer system, Reeves said.

"There are people around there who would appreciate having sewers nearby," Reeves said. "We're not going to sewer the whole neighborhood by doing this, but we'd be going in an area that would benefit quite a few folks, and that's a win-win."

Y leaders also announced last week that they will pursue a "phased" building strategy for building the Mahackeno Y. While the Y gained approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2008 for a 102,000-square-foot facility at Mahackeno, plans now call for a 55,000-square-foot main building to be built initially. The phased construction approach is modeled after the construction of other new YMCAs, such as the Soundview Family YMCA in Branford, Reeves said.

The Mahackeno Y is scheduled to open in late 2014, and construction of the first phase will cost about $36 million. In addition to $12 million raised from a capital campaign, the Y will finance phase one construction through the sale of its downtown building as well as borrowing, Reeves said.

Eventually, the Y plans to develop the Mahackeno facility to its fully planned 102,000-square-foot capacity, which could accommodate a membership of approximately 8,000, Reeves said. The Y's current center in downtown Westport has about 5,500 members.

"It is the typical way to do it, a phased project, as you raise enough money, as your building gets busy," Reeves said. "As we need to, we'll grow the project from there."

So far, the Y has raised about $6 million through its "Building What Matters" capital campaign and plans to reach its $12 million fundraising target when construction of the Mahackeno center begins in October, Reeves added.

The Y will hold a public information session about its Mahackeno sewer connection proposal on at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, at its downtown headquarters, 59 Post Road East.

The Board of Selectmen, acting in its capacity as the town's Water Pollution Control Authority, has not yet set a date for a public hearing to review the Y's proposal for the Mahackeno sewer line.

pschott@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561, ext. 118; twitter.com/paulschott.