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Carvel voices concern over proposed Massena village sewer project


MASSENA - A Massena trustee has voiced his concern over approving just over $162,000 in engineering fees for a planned $3 million sewer improvement project in the village of Massena before the municipality has a funding package in place to pay for the work.

Engineer Timothy A. Burley, who works with C2AE, Canton, shared updates with the village board last week for proposed work along and Route 37 in the Bayley Road area.

The board approved a $162,150 professional services agreement with C2AE for design phase services for the program by a 3 to 0 vote, with abstentions from Trustee Francis J. Carvel and Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies.

“When I put up my house, I didn’t start digging the cellar until I got a commitment letter from the bank. This is what concerns me here - the initial (payment) is $162,000 of spending and I still don’t see anything that’s a guarantee we’re going to get some money down the road here,” Mr. Carvel said. “I have some big concerns that if we don’t get funded, we’ll run into the same problem we’ve got with the foot bridge right now. We’re in over our head, and we can’t get out of it, but we’ve got all the money spent on it.”

According to a Project Management Plan, the work has four goals and objectives. They include the reduction of sanitary sewer bypasses at the village’s pump station #1, the reduction in number of discharges of raw sewerage at the corner of Bayley Road and state Route 37, the increase in energy efficiency for the aeration system on Orvis Street, and the development of a bio-solids recycling system.

The $3.2 million loan for the project would be paid back using funding received from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) over a 20- or 30-year period. The funding program requires a State Environmental Review Act to be completed.

Mr. Carvel said he was also concerned with suggestions need to make a speedy decision on the measure to keep the project moving forward.

“It really concerns me when I hear about these projects and everything is hurry, hurry, hurry. ‘You’ve got one month to do this. You’ve got one month to do that.’ When we hurry up a lot of times, we miss a lot of options that are maybe as good or better, cheaper that could be done because we’re in such a hurry and focused on this that we forgot all about what’s over here and what’s over there. It’s just a tunnel vision of going after something that we want to go after,” he said. “Like I said before, I really don’t know what the plan scope is of this whole thing and the more I listen to it, nobody really knows the plan scope of this because it hasn’t been figured out yet.”

According to Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad, the project has been on the CWSRF waiting list for six years without coming close to qualifying for funding.

Mr. Burley added that there are two steps facing the village before they can further proceed with the work.

“At this point, there are two pieces of information that keep you from getting in a position to do a short-term closing and moving to the next milestone with the funding agency. They want the update to the engineering report, they want us to consolidate previous engineering efforts and the contract pulling all of the efforts forward because we’re just trying to recover it with the agreement where they would be no expense if you could get funded,” he said. “Then the other part is just having the agreement in place.”

If the project ended up costing more than the permitted $3.2 million, the village would have several options. They could redo the bond resolution, only do a portion of the project or pay for the excess amount with local funds.

“Overall what they’re looking for in this agreement that matches the scope - honestly I think the scope has a high probability working - that’s why I put the stoppers in there,” Mr. Burley said. “I can’t go forward until the board basically concurs ‘Do we want to move forward with this effort?’ (Environmental Facilities Corporation) wants to know that there’s a contract in place consistent with your original budget. Can you amend it? Yes. Can you amend your project? Yes.”

“At this point if you get the engineering report in and you get a contract in place - (Mr. Fayad) and I have been in contact with the folks from (EFC) - they’re aligning and asking these elements to be in place for a September closing.”

Mr. Carvel said that his biggest concern with the project was regarding the setup of the pump station.

“My biggest concern is putting a pump station to pump water downhill. That to me is the most foolish thing that there is out there. If you’re going to replace the pipe to begin with from the lower end up to the pump station, you don’t put a pump station in and have something that’s going to fail down the road,” he said.

“It’s not going to fail on a 90 degree sunny afternoon in July. It’s going to fail April 7 when we have a big thaw and all of a sudden the pump stations fail, the line can’t handle it and we’re in the same situation we were before we started this project and we’ve spent $3 million. That’s my big concern with this.” the retired DPW foreman and current village trustee said.

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