Board Struggles For Way Forward on Lake Water Quality
The majority Selectmen declined to return to the Jan. 26 Town Meeting to again ask to form a Lost Lake Sewer District, following overwhelming defeat at fall Town Meeting for installation of a sewer system in the defined district.
Town Manager Mark Haddad told the Board that the proposal presented at the fall Town Meeting was based on results of the 2000 Federal Census and that once the population of the town increases to more than 10K (which it will based on the 2010), it could eliminate any eligibility for some state or federal grants. However, if there is a defined district, then the district could apply for grants and loans based on the population of the district and not the town. He added that there is no guarantee that the district would get the funding.
He cautioned the Board against bringing back such an article so quickly after the town voted to postpone any action of this specific article, saying, "I don't want to risk coming back without further information."
Selectman Jack Petropoulos stated that he is the member that is pushing to get the article back on the warrant. He said he talked to a lot of people and once they understood, many of them thought it would pass, adding, "Let's let the voters decide."
Colleague Josh Degen said he felt it would be "disingenuous to put this on town meeting after the resounding defeat by 80 percent of the voters at Town Meeting Some people will understand but others will think we are trying to railroad the sewer. I am not comfortable with putting this on the warrant." Selectman Anna Eliot agreed.
Selectmen Chairman Stuart Schulman said he did not want to go back to Town Meeting, suggesting that the primary purpose of this upcoming town meeting is to approve funds to build a new fire station and he does not want to detract from that. "$13M is not going to fly. It failed because $13M was too high. I don't want to risk the Fire Station by putting on a sewer district article. We need to put all our focus on the fire station."
The Board did agree to re-energize the Lost Lake Sewer committee, by providing a new charge and ensuring that a five-member committee includes two existing members, Angela Garger and Tom Orcutt, but also a member from the Board of Health, Selectmen and Finance Committee.
Petropoulos said he wanted to provide "residents with options, define how many houses are a threat, should it be a sewer or something else. We need to step back and do a more thorough investigation." Eliot said that a lot of the statistical work had already been done.
Schulman reiterated that "the article failed because of dollars. Some people couldn't afford it. A number of people felt the town should pay. Others felt that the town should not pay. The number one issue is the funding strategy for the $13M. We need to look long and hard and come up with a financial package that people can accept."