Meeting tonight on sewer system’s future

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Bridgton residents interested in increasing redevelopment possibilities for its downtown are invited to attend a public workshop tonight, Thursday, March 7, at 6 p.m. to tell the Wastewater Committee and selectmen what locations in town they’d like to see the town expand its sewer system.

“Research indicates that a sewer expansion for our sized community could run from a few hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars, depending upon the kind of expansion and treatment that an engineering feasibility report recommends,” Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz wrote in a Feb. 8 memo to the Wastewater Committee. He recommended that such a feasibility study be conducted, noting that the fiscal impact could be reduced through various grants.

The town is looking at possibly expanding the system beyond Pondicherry Square to lower Main Street, and also possibly along Portland Road. New field locations would have to be created in order to do so, since the existing lower ball field leach field has all but reached its capacity in terms of allocations already granted.

Around half of the system’s users, or 30 customers on Main Street from around the Bridgton Methodist Church to Pondicherry Square are served by the lower ball field leach field. The Wayside leach field still has available capacity, so the need isn’t as pressing to expand the system on that end.

Berkowitz estimated that anywhere from 176 to 352 new users would need to be connected to an expanded system in order to finance the necessary borrowing. One possible new field location that the Wastewater Committee is eyeing is town-owned land behind the Squeaky Clean Laundromat on Smith Avenue and Portland Road. Another town-owned parcel on Kansas Road is also being considered.

Committee members and selectmen have said they want to involve the public as much as possible in decisions about expanding the sewer, because future growth in town will follow such decisions. They encourage residents who have questions or concerns to attend the meeting.

The Wastewater Committee is also reviewing changes in the ordinance governing the manner in which allocations of sewer capacity are issued. At the Feb. 26 Selectmen meeting, Wastewater Committee member Glen “Bear” Zaidman noted the need to update the spreadsheet listing current allocations so that it can be clearly seen who is under-utilizing their approved capacity, and who is over-utilizing it, based on periodic meter readings.

The ordinance needs to include language allowing users to give back unused capacity if they wish to, in order to allow users with higher demands to be considered for increased allocations, Zaidman said. The March 7 meeting will also include discussion of changes to the ordinance.

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