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Old Lyme to sign agreement outlining shared sewage infrastructure costs

Old Lyme — At a Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night, town officials took another step to make an ongoing sewer project in its Sound View neighborhood a reality after agreeing to soon sign a contract promising to share sewer infrastructure with three private beach neighborhoods.

Both the town and the three private beach neighborhoods — which include the Miami Beach Association, the Old Colony Beach Club Association and Old Lyme Shores Beach Association — are all moving forward with separate sewer projects that are planned to eventually combine after Old Lyme residents at referendum last summer voted to allow the town to bond up to $9.4 million to initially pay for the Sound View portion of project.

Sound View rate payers will be on the hook to pay off that project in the future, however, though some of the project will be paid through state Clean Water Fund grants.

Because the three beach neighborhoods are farther along in their sewer project planning and have already designed a Portland Avenue pump house and force main pipe to send sewage through East Lyme and Waterford to New London for treatment, town officials planning the Sound View portion of the project have deemed that future Sound View-ratepayers can save millions by tying their project into the beach associations' project to collectively process and send sewage New London.

Instead of building its own pump house and force main, Sound View ratepayers will pay about 30%, of the estimated $5 million it will cost the three beach associations to build the infrastructure needed to send sewage to New London. The agreement also outlines that Sound View ratepayers will pay 30% of any future maintenance costs of the infrastructure.

Once the agreement is signed, the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority, must also reimburse the three beach associations approximately $66,600 for various legal fees and design costs the associations have already paid to plan the infrastructure. Ratepayers are also expected to eventually pay the town back that money, as well, WPCA Chairman Rich Prendergast said by phone Tuesday.

Prendergast said the WPCA already has enough in its budget to pay those funds to the associations and will not need to request an additional allocation from the town’s surplus.

The soon-to-be signed agreement also outlines plans to amend already-existing “inter-municipal agreements,” or IMAs the beach associations signed with the towns of East Lyme and New London to send sewage to New London and which establish a 120,000-gallon daily sewage capacity for the three beach associations. He said the IMAs will be amended to allow Old Lyme its own 50,000-gallon daily capacity for its Sound View customers, Prendergast said.

First Selectman Tim Griswold said Tuesday he expects he will sign the finalized contract, which is still in draft form, by the end of this month, after the Board of Finance approves the $66,600 WPCA expenditure to the beach associations.

The town will have the option to exit the agreement in the future before signing a final Cost Sharing Agreement with the associations, Prendergast said, but will likely not be able to receive a refund for the $66,600.

He added that by signing this agreement now, the town will be able to move forward signing various easements needed to complete the project and will also be able to amend the already-existing IMAs, thereby setting the town up to receive state Clean Water Funds it needs to finance the project before ratepayers pay the town back.




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