RENSSELAER — Several members of the Rensselaer City Council say people are asking them about the survey work being done near Owen Street for a new sewer project.
Several people living in that area are concerned about the possibility of the project using pumps and grinders on private property, and therefore leaving the property owners footing the bill to preserve them.
Everyone at the meeting agreed that rumors and speculation about this possibility have been flying around between neighbors in the area.
Councilman Rick Odle invited at least some of those who called him about the project to attend Monday’s council meeting to discuss the issue during the time allotted for public comments. Roughly 20 minutes were spent doing so that evening.
“I’ve received calls at home about the very situation you’ve just discussed,” Odle said to Mayor Stephen Wood, after he had begun speaking about the project. “And I know (Councilman) George Cover has, too, because he and I talked about people calling and asking, ‘What’s going on?’”
At least three people voiced their concerns during the meeting, and others showed up to represent the area even though they did not speak publicly.
Several in the crowd wished to let the council know that they did not feel like it should be the homeowners’ responsibility to maintain a lift station, if lift stations are part of the option chosen by the council.
Wood acknowledged their concerns, but insisted the city government will be thorough in examining all the possibilities for the sewer project. But the project is currently in its early stages.
“It takes a while to put a project together and find the funding and the financing,” Wood said. “And this all came about just this year, and we had to go out and get an engineering firm. We’ve hired these people and they’re in the design phase right now. They’ve just finished up the survey.”
Project Coordinator Jerry Lockridge said the survey was completed last Friday. The city should receive the plans for the project, he said, by Nov. 15.
“We can tell you more when we get the design done,” Wood said to those in attendance. “And we’re going to try to do as much gravity as we can. But if we get to the point where we’re 17-20 feet deep, we probably will have to go to a low-pressure system, but we’re going to run gravity as far as we can. There’s options available in this. We don’t have to take the first option.”
Wood did leave the possibility for pumps as an open subject. He and the council have previously emphasized the need to rely on gravity over pumps as much as physically possible.
“At this point, I think, yes, we may have to have some,” he said. “We may not. I’m just going by my experience. But the final question will be told when the design is put in and put together.”
He said he has also “heard all kinds of rumors” about the project, along with many of those in attendance.
“People are spreading all kinds of things, just to that area (near Owen Street),” Wood said. “We’re going to sewer all of the other ‘unsewered’ areas. And we don’t know what we’re going to do to those other areas until we get the design.”
He insisted that “the design will have options involved.” He also said people will be able to see the designs and voice their concerns about them before the council makes a decision.
“As soon as we get the design, I’ll have the engineering firm here,” he said. “And then we’ll sit down and we’ll invite everybody in, and we’ll share that information.”
After being asked a question from the audience, Wood said those who live within the city limits will not receive a surcharge on their sewer rates.
Wood said “if everything goes as planned,” bids on the project will be received this winter when the contractors are less busy. He added that, “we’re going to go through this with a fine-tooth comb.”
Odle took a moment to thank those who had come to voice their concerns.
“I want to thank you guys for coming tonight, so that the Mayor could explain to you guys, first-hand, what he knows and what we’re doing as a council,” he said. “Because I’ve tried to answer questions for people, and I don’t know, because we don’t have anything definitive yet. So thanks again for coming. I appreciate it.”
Odle said he thought that their attendance was called for, due to the amount of rumors going around about the project.
“I hope you (Mayor Wood) have answered their questions,” Odle said. “But I didn’t want them left out in the cold, not knowing. Because, when they call us, we try and tell them what we know. And, when I hear they have 10 different answers from 10 different people, then somebody’s not getting the right information to the people that are going to have to deal with this.”