Special to the Independent
Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. is still going to pursue fixing the sewer line along the Island End River, despite the Board of Aldermen rejecting authorization to bond $10 million dollars. The administration, after taking the reins of the project since 2008, is looking to bring closure to a long-standing storm water and sewage backup issue along the Island End River. The Aldermen did not agree, citing issues with ownership, the city’s obligation to fix a portion of the sewer in Chelsea, and communication issues.
The city is under a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) mandate to repair a sewer line along the industrial section of the city. The original line, built in the 1960’s is collapsing and in serious disrepair. A portion of the line travels through an industrial section of Chelsea, then connects back into Everett, and ultimately ties into the disposal system run by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA.) The city faces potential fines of up to $25,000.00 per day for failure to comply with the mandate.
The city is also negotiating with Boston Market Terminal (BMT) to repair a storm-water culvert along the Island End River. BMT is offering to repay the city the cost of the repair with the intention the city will retain ownership once the work is complete.
Engineers estimate both projects combined would cost the city $8-10 million dollars. From the Mayor’s prospective the chance to complete both projects will save the city money in the end.
“The culvert at BMT is also in major disrepair,” states the Mayor, “both systems (the sewer and the culvert) are used heavily by both our residential and commercial sector, if any of those systems fail, it will be a very expensive emergency repair.” The Mayor estimates that the storm water system covers at least a third of the city, from the Island End section to Hancock Street.
“I still believe that we’re going to get this project complete, we can’t risk fines from the DEP,”states Mayor DeMaria, “what’s disappointing is the reasoning offered by the Board of Aldermen.” Noting the Board’s suggestion that not enough information was available in a timely manner. “However, it’s important that we work together to get this project done. I agree that there was a breakdown in communication somewhere, but not in my office.” The Mayor also notes that this project has been on the city’s radar through many administration changes.
The Mayor does report a good light at the end of the tunnel. After speaking with DEP officials last week, the state agency has agreed to extend an important deadline from June 30, to October 15. The Mayor is enthused about the extension however he notes that this puts a greater demand on ensuring all pieces fit together perfectly.
“The authorization to bond, didn’t necessarily mean that we were going to bond the money the next day,” states Mayor DeMaria, “at the time we needed the authorization to show DEP that we were working in good faith, give us the ability to apply for State funding, and have a solid hand at the negotiation table with the parties involved.”
The Mayor is not concerned that the project will stall, citing multiple alternatives that he and CDM the City’s consultants worked through over the last couple of years. “This is the basics of government,” states Mayor DeMaria, “we’re all not going to agree, we all have a different angle, and I believe that in the end we’ll work together on a solution.”
Mayor DeMaria will invite City Council leadership to discuss the matter further so all parties can share information to the respective legislative bodies. The administration hopes to have a revised request before the Board and Council, when the bodies reconvene in August.