Pump-out facility may be ready by mid-October, in time for season's end

Greenwich, Sept. 28, 2009. The Grass Island new pump station has been approved, but will not be completed until November.
Greenwich, Sept. 28, 2009. The Grass Island new pump station has been approved, but will not be completed until November.Helen Neafsey

A marine pump-out station could be ready for Greenwich boaters just around the time they start thinking about hauling their boats out of the water.

Work will start soon on installing the pump-out station at the town-owned Grass Island marina in Greenwich Harbor, said Henry Goyette, the town's operation manager for boats and harbors.

"We could start work later this week and I think it will take us about three weeks to finish it," he said about the approximately $24,000 project.

That would mean boaters would have about four weeks to use the facility before the boating season ended Nov. 15.

One boater, Chris Antonik, said the station should have been ready to go much earlier this season and boaters were inconvenienced by not having one operational at Grass Island marina.

"The town should have done this right away and then go get the money from the state," Antonik said Monday, although he didn't put the blame on Goyette.

The town had to wait for state approval before they could do any work, Goyette said this summer.

The state picked up about 75 percent of the tab, but the state's involvement contributed to the delay, Goyette said.

The town planned to spend its own money to build the new pump-out station at another area at the town-owned marina. But in late winter or early spring, the town learned the state would pay up to $18,000 for the project.

The completed application went to the state on April 24 and the town received approval on June 18.

However, the town's Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Representative Town Meeting had to give their approvals to receive the state money.

The BET approved the deal in July and then it was sent to the RTM, but its first meeting after the BET approval wasn't until Sept. 21.

The RTM gave its blessing at that meeting allowing the town to proceed, Goyette said.

The pump-out station allows boaters to empty sewage from their holding tanks into the town sewer system. The aim is to prevent boaters from polluting Long Island Sound by emptying their tanks directly into the sound.

Until this year, the pump-out station on Grass Island had been on the transient dock. It created congestion and often tied-up boats had to be moved to allow another boater to use the facility.

Boaters did have choices on emptying their sewage tanks, including the Norwalk-based Soundkeeper program.

In that program boat owners make an appointment to have a Soundkeeper boat pull up beside them and empty their holding tanks. The service is free and the contents are later pumped into a municipal sewer system.

Two spots in Cos Cob -- Beacon Point and the Mianus River Boat and Yacht Club -- offer pump-out facilities that are open to all boaters.

But Antonik said sailing to those locations cost time and money for boaters who didn't live nearby.

"Cos Cob is a nice place to go once in a while, but not every time you need to pump your boat out," Antonik said.

Staff Writer Frank MacEachern can be reached at frank.maceachern@scni.com or 203-625-4434.