Voorheesville to residents: Village won't require sewer tie in

175 Voorheesville properties newly installed sewer system map

— From the village of Voorheesville
The plan: A very preliminary proposal to tie 175 Voorheesville properties into a newly installed sewer system would come with a price tag of $3.6 million. However, the village stresses that it is pursuing grants to defray the costs and that residents will be kept well-informed about the project’s progress.

VOORHEESVILLE — A dozen or more village residents came to the trustees’ monthly meeting, seeking clarification about a proposed sewer project that, they thought, could end up costing them tens-of-thousands of dollars. 

At issue was the feasibility study the village recently had the engineering firm C.T. Male perform, which estimated that it would cost $3.6 million to install a low-pressure sanitary-sewer system to service 175 properties across three areas of the village. 

Sewer projects are “notoriously expensive,” said Mayor Robert Conway at the Sept. 24 meeting, so the village is pursuing grant possibilities to offset — if not the total cost, which is probably unlikely — some of the project’s costs, so that the project would be brought in “to a more reasonable realm for the village residents.”

“As we got this report and we all talked about it, we said, ‘We can’t do this unless we get grant money,’” said Trustee Rich Straut. Straut recently told The Enterprise that a grant application had already been submitted to the state.

As part of both the Voorheesville’s 2015 Main Street Master Plan as well as its 2018 Comprehensive Plan, the village set as one of its major goals fostering economic development in the village, specifically through the revitalization of Main Street, and specifically by improving — rather, installing for the first timeinfrastructure that would assist in attracting new business to the recently-rezoned district while also helping to better facilitate the area’s existing shops. 

The village is concerned that the septic systems that currently service the area can restrict businesses from moving into the commercial district, Straut previously told The Enterprise.

Conway said that the project is still very preliminary and that, once it comes together a little bit more, and the village has more information, it will share that information with residents through public notices and hearings. 

“So, there’s time and there’s plenty of discussion going forward, before anything concrete would take place,” he said.

Nothing in the village has ever been done “under the cloak of darkness,” Conway said; the village has always been transparent and residents would never be notified after the fact that a deal was in place for a new sewer system, he said. 

To pay back the $3.6 million, C.T. Male assumed that the village would float a 20-year bond for the entire cost of the project — no grants were assumed in the estimate. The study then estimated the cost to property owners in each of the project’s three phases:

— Phase one would include properties on South Main Street and Voorheesville Avenue and would cost $1 million — the annual property owner payment to the village would be about $695;

 — Phase two would be the properties on Pleasant Street and would cost $600,000 — the annual property owner payment to the village would be about $1,070; and

— Phase three would service parts of Drywall Lane, Voorheesville Avenue, Main, Grove, Pine, West, and Zelda streets, according to the feasibility study, and would cost $2 million — the annual property owner payment to the village would be about $1,609.

In addition to having to pay back the bond on the capital-project costs, individual property owners would also have to shell out another $7,000 for the purchase and installation of grinder pump and service lateral to hook on to the village’s sewer main — if they chose to do so. 

“At no point were we going to require people to tie into the system,” Conway said. When a sewer line was run down Maple Avenue, the village didn’t require homeowners to connect to the system, he noted.

Over the years, 60- to 70-percent of property owners have connected because, as septic systems fail, the mayor said, the cost of tying into the sewer line was deemed a less expensive option than installing a new septic system. 

However, Maple Avenue property owners who have yet to connect to the system are still responsible to help service the debt — a $100-per-year-fee — on the sewer main because it’s available for them to tie into.

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