Town Lays Out Plan For Summer Sewer Work

by Ryan Bray
Sewer work will begin May 20 on Finlay Road, where the roadway will be dug up to install a force main.  RYAN BRAY PHOTO Sewer work will begin May 20 on Finlay Road, where the roadway will be dug up to install a force main. RYAN BRAY PHOTO

ORLEANS – Summer’s almost here, but sewering will continue in parts of the Meetinghouse Pond area into the fall.

Work will continue May 20 with force main installation along Finlay Road, which Assistant Town Planner Michael Solitro said is expected to take about six weeks to complete. Other areas targeted for work this summer include Nauset Farms Way, Cole Place, Baxter Lane and the town hall parking lot, where a pump station servicing the area is being installed.

During a public meeting April 30 held to update residents on the Meetinghouse Pond work, Tim Harrison of AECOM, the town’s sewering consultant, said the summer work will include the installation of force, gravity and low-pressure sewer mains, sewer and water services, temporary road paving and the construction of a pump station. That work will continue through Sept.15, he said.

Finlay Road will be closed in both directions for the duration of the proposed work, Solitro said. While the town looked at the option of keeping one lane open for through traffic, he said that was not possible due to the width of the road and the size of the trench that needs to be dug to accommodate the force main. The road, located in the town’s industrial area, also attracts larger vehicles than other parts of town, which Solitro said further complicated the possibility of keeping a lane open.

The Finlay Road work will start at the intersection of Finlay, Route 28 and Pond Road and continue toward the intersection with Lots Hollow Road. Traffic along Finlay will detoured down Eldredge Park Way while work is ongoing, Solitro said. Lots Hollow Road will remain open to traffic during work in the area, he said.

However, residents in the area and those who need to access the area for work will be allowed in during the construction.

“They’ll be able to pass through where the work is depending on where the house is or where the business is they’re going to,” Solitro said.

Solitro said he’s been in contact with the estimated 70 businesses and property owners in the area of the Finlay Road work to alert them to the construction and detour. The town’s hope is that the work will be completed in the area by the start of July.

Meanwhile, the back of the town hall parking lot will be closed off starting May 24 while the pump station is installed.

“Town Hall will still be accessible from the main parking lot,” reads a notice on the town website. “Fencing and barriers will be in place, but staff and visitors should be cautious of equipment and trucks coming and going from the work site. Additional Town Hall parking will be available at 139 Main St.”

Public Works Director Rich Waldo said in an email last week that mains will have been installed for approximately 35 percent of the Meetinghouse sewer area by May 17.

A substantial portion of that work has occurred along Main Street, where main installation and other services have been ongoing for several months. That work will be stopped for the summer and will resume in the fall. Additional pipes will be set from September to December, Harrison said. Final restoration and paving could be done in the fall, but most likely will occur in those installed areas next spring, he said.

“We can’t do final paving at the same time we install pipes because there needs to be a settlement period,” he said, noting that the ground needs at least 90 days to settle.

An article headed to next week’s annual town meeting requests authorization to expand the Meetinghouse Pond sewer area to include the areas of Tides End Land and Walker Road. The expansion, which would connect an additional 28 properties to town sewer, would not come at any additional expense to the town.

“This really kind of completes the ring around Meetinghouse Pond,” Harrison said.

Harrison said April 30 that work on the expansion area, if approved at town meeting, would continue through 2025, while construction of the whole Meetinghouse Pond area is expected to be substantially completed by December 2025. Property owners in the sewer area will then receive a notice to connect, and will have one year to do so upon receipt of the notice.

Meetinghouse Pond is the second phase of town sewering, coming on the heels of work downtown, where property owners are currently in the process of connecting to the system. There are 16 phases of work in total that collectively will serve 60 percent of the town.

Voters at the May 13 annual town meeting will also be asked to support a Proposition 2½ override of $1.2 million to fund a final design for the third phase of work planned for the areas of Crystal Lake, Pilgrim Lake, Lonnie’s Pond and Arey’s Pond. Harrison said with the completion of phase three, construction will be completed for about a third of all properties planned for sewering over the 16 phases.

“We’ll have already captured over half of the nitrogen that the entire plan reflects” he added. “So the town is really working hard to get the most bang for their buck up front so we can start seeing the improvements and maintenance of that water quality as quickly as possible.”

Residents in attendance of the April 30 meeting were given the opportunity to ask questions. Asked when they should begin the process of contacting an engineer and contractor to assist in their connection, Reggie Donoghue, the town’s ombudsman on the sewer project, said residents should begin planning their connections by early 2025.

Peter Gori, owner of Nauset Farms, urged the town to consider conducting final paving on Main Street in the winter instead of the fall.

“Doing it in the fall will kill us at Thanksgiving and Christmas,” he said.

Others questioned the betterments associated with the Meetinghouse Pond sewer work. Voters at the special town meeting in 2022 approved funding 20 percent of the work through betterments to be paid by property owners. The remaining 80 percent of the project cost will go on the tax rate.

Alan McClennen, a member of the board of water and sewer commissioners, said that property owners will be able to pay their betterments over a 30-year period, potentially with zero percent interest. But one woman raised concerns that the betterments are overburdening those residents who already have to pay for their connections.

“My suggestion is that we look at the tax base for the betterments,” she said. “And eliminate the betterment for the buyer.”

Kevin Galligan of the select board said the board worked to make the betterment process as fair and equitable to property owners in the sewer areas as possible.

“Equity and fairness is what they really tried for,” he said. Galligan added that the amount of the betterments will not be known until the overall cost of the Meetinghouse Pond work is tallied and the last three years worth of water usage in the area is accounted for.

“I would suggest that the best thing we can do is gather again together in a year,” he said.

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