Selectmen to Decide How To Record Unreturned Surveys at Sept. 4th Meeting
Lost Lake Sewer Committee and town of Groton sent out 341 certified letters - with a return receipt - to residents of the Lost Lake area who are eligible to participate in the proposed Lost Lake Sewer System. The letter asked them specifically if they want to participate in the new system and contained a postage paid return envelope for their responses. The letter was discussed and reviewed by Selectmen at their July 9 meeting.
The deadline for those who received those letters to respond was Friday, August 24. Of the 341 certified letters sent, 310 were accepted and the green card attachment to the certified letters was returned. There were 31 addresses that did not respond at all.
A total 198 letters were filled out and returned to the Sewer Committee. Of those, 79 said yes and 119 said no. The remaining 112 letters were not returned. The letter to these Lost Lake residents indicated that those letters not returned to the Sewer Committee would be considered a 'yes' vote. Adding these 112 unreturned to the 79 residents that responded with a yes, would result in 191 yeses.
Town Manager Mark Haddad acknowledged that there had been negative feedback regarding the count of unreturned letters as a yes vote. He said that this will come before Selectmen at their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 7:15 p.m. He stressed that it is very important for people affected to understand the cost of betterments for eligible properties.
According to Haddad, the certified letter method was used after the Sewer Committee had a great deal of difficulty last year getting responses to an income questionnaire that would have make the project eligible for low to no interest loans. He stressed that the letter was sent to make sure people knew what was being proposed and understood implications of such a project.
Haddad said that even though there are 112 unreturned letters, the Sewer Committee and town would continue to accept responses from the certified letter holders.
Among concerns driving this approach to solving issues at the lakes that are filling with weeds, is nitrates leaching into the lake from failing and marginal septic systems, in addition to lawn chemicals and boats from other lakes. According to Lost Lake Sewer Committee member Carol Quinn, lots on the lake tend to be very small, and there is a possibility that a failing septic system on one property could be contaminating the well of an adjacent property as there is just not enough room for both wells and proper septic systems on the small parcels.
Knops Pond. Duck Pond, and Lost Lake are all feeders into Whitney Pond, source of one of the town's major municipal wells -Whitney Well - that provides water to Groton. Another member of the Lost Lake Sewer Committee, Groton Water Department Manager Tom Orcutt, said that their consultants told them that it is not a matter of if contamination leaches its way to the well field, but when.
The Lost Lake Sewer Committee has two more public hearings scheduled: Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall and Sept. 13 at 1:30 p.m. at Lost Lake Fire Station.
In addition to the targeted certified mail questionnaire, there is a general questionnaire that was sent to 4500 households in electric bills. The two questionnaires have caused some confusion in the community.
The town-wide questionnaire is printed on aqua paper. These questionnaires can be returned to the Sewer Department or placed in a box outside the Town Clerk's office. This questionnaire asked all residents, among other things, if they were aware of the Lost Lake Sewer Project, and what percent of the cost they feel the town should pay for the $11.9M project.
To date, this town-wide questionnaire has received 234 responses or about 5.2 percent of the 4500 surveys. The initial tally indicated that 62.4 percent of respondents felt that some amount of contribution should be paid by the town-wide tax base, while 29.5 percent felt that no amount should be contributed from the tax base.
Lost Lake Sewer Committee is continuing to accept the town-wide questionnaires. The deadline to return them is mid-September.