The City Council grudgingly voted in favor of an Administration request to borrow $500,000 from the State Revolving Fund, with the money going to fund a study of the city’s stormwater and wastewater drainage flow, with a focus on the second street and village neighborhoods.
The matter was hotly debated between councilors and department heads who were called to respond to questions about the program.
Initially, the Council had voted 6 to 4 to send the matter to its Ways and Means Committee for further discussion, but following reconsideration of the matter, City Auditor Richard Viscay informed the Council of a June 30 deadline to commit to the program, in order to qualify for the state’s lower interest rate program of 2-percent.
Following that news and some further discussion, the council ultimately voted 11-0 to approve the bonding and allow the project to proceed.
The purpose of the project, according to City Services Director Jay Marcotte and Community and Economic Development Director James Errickson is to allow the city to develop a comprehensive plan for addressing its stormwater and wastewater drainage issues, including repetitive flooding concerns in the above named neighborhoods and citywide.
“Though the city has done several other studies of drainage issues in the past,” explained Errickson, in response to a query from Councilor Peter Napolitano. “We have not looked at the city as a whole to prioritize what we can do to correct the problems.”
Councilors, including Napolitano, were initially concerned that the study was duplicative of other drainage studies that have been conducted for the city over the past 10 year or so. They noted that they did not want to commit to funding another study if it is not going to result in real solutions to the problem being implemented.
Marcotte, Viscay and Errickson, in different ways, all noted that the value of the study is in the fact that it will allow the city to proactively plan for addressing drainage and flooding issues goig forward.
The actually funds will be made available to the city through the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust (MWPAT) and the study has been approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).