BALLSTON – The Ballston Sewer Committee recommended that the Town Board take preliminary steps to consider adding a second phase to the Ballston Lake sewer project to add a sewer district along Route 50 during Tuesday’s board meeting.
Engineer Ed Hernandez from Adirondack Mountain Engineering and Sewer Committee member Kim Kotkoskie presented the recommendation to the board to authorize a map, plan and report to begin the process of considering a sewer project along Route 50 based on the findings of the study completed by the engineering firm.
“Initially the board approved multiple scenarios for Adirondack to look at and the committee decided we’re going to look at what we called alternate 5,” Kotkoskie said. “That study area we felt was the most cost effective, largest effect for the money for our residents and that’s where we’ll focus.”
Hernandez ran through the benefits of adding a sewer system, which include protecting the Ballston Lake and Alplaus Kill Creek watersheds, addressing contamination issues for the lake and the creek, protecting public health and welfare, addressing failing septic systems, the promotion of commercial growth along Route 50, increasing the tax base and increasing property values.
The proposed project would include the Route 50 area between Middleline Road and the Glenville Town line and would include 527 properties.
The Route 50 project would service 384 single family homes, 18 two family homes, five three family homes, six apartment buildings, seven commercial related properties, 14 vacant commercial properties, 11 vacant residential properties, Ballston Spa High School, Francis L. Stevens Elementary School, Town of Ballston Community Library, five churches, two water utility sites, Burnt Hills Fire Department and eight other properties.
According to Hernandez the average daily flow for the included properties is 192,000 gallons per day with a peek hourly flow of 532 gallons per minute. The proposed Route 50 sewer project would seek to increase the capacity of the Main Street pump station that will be built as part of the Ballston Lake sewer project to service the additional properties.
The project calls for approximately 41,000 feet of gravity sewers, 2,500 feet of low pressure sewers and 8.3 miles of pipes. The second phase of the project would necessitate upgrades to lines that will be constructed in the first phase of the project.
Construction for the project would cost an estimated $9.76 million, upgrades to phase one to accommodate phase two would cost $1.68 million and accounting for 15 percent in contingency costs is recommended, bringing the total construction cost to $13 million.
Engineering, surveying, archeology, legal services and all non-construction fees were estimated at $2.78 million, or 20 percent of the project cost, bringing the total cost of the project to $15.78.
Hernandez estimated the cost of project to be $986 annually for a single-family home based on the debt service that the town would take on to finance the project and the annual Saratoga County Sewer District user charge to convey and treat wastewater. This would result in an average monthly cost of about $82 per month.
There would be additional one-time hookup costs associated with the project that would range from about $3,500 to $10,000 depending on the type of connection required at each property.
The proposed Route 50 project would be a three-year process requiring a map, plan and report, a public hearing on the document and the project would be subject to a public or permissive referendum.
If approved by referendum, an application would need to be submitted to the New York State Comptroller, followed by financing applications in the spring and finally design and construction of the project could commence.
Hernandez said that the Route 50 project would likely follow the Ballston Lake sewer project by about a year and a half.
Town Board member William Goslin pointed out that the town must act now if it wishes to construct the Route 50 sewer project in order to connect with the Ballston Lake project.
“Two years from now the pipes from the Ballston Lake sewer project will already be in the ground and whatever you want to do, the $15 million that you saw here will not be $15 million anymore, it will be another number and it will not be a number that is lower,” Goslin said.
Goslin spoke favorably of the project that would direct development to the Route 50 corridor as recommended by Nan Stolzenberg of Community Planning and Environmental Associates whose services the town has retained to make zoning recommendations.
“The idea is to leverage the investment that we’re making in the Ballston Lake sewer project and give the town the opportunity to determine whether they want sewers in a major portion of the hamlet,” Goslin said. “There is a lot of opportunity that we can’t take advantage of because we don’t have sewers.”
Goslin echoed Hernandez’s assertion that the project would serve as an opportunity for economic development in the town that would diversify the tax base and would improve the look of the town’s Route 50 commercial district in keeping the surrounding area while protecting the town’s water bodies.
He went on to remind the board of the project’s potential qualification for grant funding noting that the Ballston Lake sewer project had received a $2.5 million grant.
Town Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak agreed with Goslin’s assessment that the town has a onetime opportunity to complete the project. He also informed residents that if the project moves forward, the necessary public referendum would be planned for the spring.
The reaction of residents during the public comment was mixed. One resident spoke favorably of the project that would enable “smart” commercial growth and would help alleviate the school tax burden while under the control of the forthcoming town zoning changes.
Other residents raised concerns that the sewer would lead to growth beyond the town, emergency services and the school district’s capability to serve, traffic problems and development not in keeping with the town’s rural and agricultural nature.
Resident Carl Thurnau said, “This is a two lane road town, you run sewers up Route 50 and you’re going to have a Colonie like you’ve never seen before. There’s going to be massive development, there already is massive development starting. I just don’t know how the continuing proposal to go forward with economic development and sewer projects is going to effect the rural character of the town. We all know they are going to really effect it.”
Supervisor Szczepaniak responded to the concerns saying that the proposed zoning changes that the town has been working on for the past year will address any potential issues.
“That was a concern before, right, people don’t want downtown Burnt Hills to look like a Wolf Road. That’s a good point” Szczepaniak said. “I think that we’re doing due diligence so that that doesn’t happen.”
The Town Board voted unanimously to authorize Adirondack Mountain Engineering to prepare a map, plan and report to establish a proposed special district for the Route 50 sewer project at a cost not to exceed $5,500.