BCWA to Bristol: Take it or leave it
The Bristol County Water Authority is adamant about its cost-share figure for the Phase 2 of the Poppasquash water line project.
"The board did decide (to only pay) the portion we're responsible for, the cleaning and lining of the existing main," Pamela Marchand, executive director of the BCWA, told members of the Bristol Town Council during a special meeting Thursday night. "We would not be able to consider additional funds than what was offered."
Councilors called the special meeting with Ms. Marchand to further discuss whether or not the utility could pay more than $469,000 toward the project. That amount is what would cost the utility to clean and line the existing 100-year-old 6-inch cast iron pipe that runs along a portion of Poppasquash Road.
The route for the Phase 2 is sited along a proposed upgrade to the bike path through Colt State Park. Approximately two-thirds of the main will be installed along the bike path, while the southern third will be installed through the woods to the existing Poppasquash connection, ending just beyond the Bristol Yacht Club. The total length is 4,100 feet.
The project calls for a new, 8-inch plastic pipe with fused joints. This would deliver about 1,148 gallons per minute, enough to provide fire suppression to the area's two fire hydrants. Currently, residents tapping into the system are only drawing about 364 gallons per minute.
"Not enough to properly operate a lawn sprinkler," said Poppasquash Road resident George Holsten.
"At this point, funds are allocated in our budget to do that," Ms. Marchand said. "Everyone's budgets are very tight. If we gave more money, we'd have to drop another project and there are higher priorities that need to get done this year."
Mr. Marchand cited fixing a water quality issue along Market Street in Warren, and maintaining the BCWA's infrastructure as the utility's capital projects this year.
The design plans and specs for Phase 2 are about 95-percent complete, said Tim Theis, of PAR Engineering. The BCWA could potentially put the project out for public bid as soon as the end of February.
"We want to start in March, as soon as the ground thaws," Mr. Theis said. "We're hoping to get it done before the peak season in summer. So, either June or July."
However, councilors are still unsure as to how the town would fund its own cost-share of the project, about $250,000. That figure is less than previously reported because there were additional carryover funds from Phase 1 of the project.
"We don't' have a final determination as to where we'd access these funds," said Council Chair Mary Parella. "We need to continue working on that. If we can find funding, then we certainly don't want to miss the spring season."
While Ms. Marchand told councilors that she couldn't guarantee that the board would approve the utility's budget — with a $500,000 line item for the Poppasquash project — she did say that the board didn't voice any objects when it viewed the preliminary version. The BCWA board is expected to vote on its budget Jan. 22.
Councilors voted to turn the matter of funding the project over to the Town Administrator and the Town Treasurer offices, and report back with a possible funding solution Jan. 29.