Selectmen Nix Pond St. Water, Sewer Extension
Concerned residents said cost, impact to area was prohibitive for the neighborhood.
After hearing the concerns of neighborhood residents, the Salem Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to eliminate a proposed 2013 warrant article for extension of town water and sewer as part of the reconstruction of Pond Street.
The $800,000 bond project to extend the services had been separated from the overall 2013 road reconstruction program. The replacement of existing lines on Pond Street, as well as its reconstruction, remain in the overall road program article.
The extension would have impacted 46 properties for sewer and 32 properties for water, Town Manager Keith Hickey said.
Several residents of Stillwater Circle, a small residential road off Pond Street very close to the Massachusetts border, spoke to the board voicing their issues with the proposal.
Resident Charles Albert referenced meetings that took place last week between town officials and area residents about the proposed project.
Albert called it "very short notice given the financial commitment that will be expected of many us."
He cited the fact that Pond Street's proximity to the state line means their decisions won't impact any other residents of Salem.
"We see no meaningful improvement being offered by the installment of sewer and water," Albert said.
Albert explained that for some residents to hook up, it could cost in the neighborhood of $20,000 each to take part in the project. This is due to Demand and Benefit Assessment fees and interest if homeowners decide to spread the payments out over 20 years.
Selectman Everett McBride, Jr., said he wanted to see who in the area wanted the project done and who would not.
"The majority rules," McBride said. "That's my opinion."
Selectman Michael Lyons said he was "real glad" the project was separated from the road program.
His solution was to inform residents in the area about the situation and tell them if they want the project to put together a citizens petition to be placed on the town warrant. Residents need 25 signatures from registered voters for that to be a reality.
"Let's not motivate people to kill something," Lyons said. "Let's motivate the people that want it to go out and get it done themselves."
Selectman Stephen Campbell suggested the town inform area residents via mail what their options will be after the board made their actions.
Selectman Jim Keller expressed some reservations about making the decision without some kind of public hearing on the topic.
"I'm not trying to prolong the process," Keller said.
"We're going to make sure people get their letters," Selectmen Chair Pat Hargreaves said.