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An example of government working

Commentary

The other day I drove down the road which runs parallel to the lake in the town of North Harmony and saw what looked like surveyor stakes with small red flags attached.

It tweaked my interest enough to call the sewer district to see if they were related to extending the sewer up the lake and the answer was “Yes.”

These particular stakes were marking where a 2-inch lateral line would be laid to gather sewage from homes right along the lake. From there, the sewage will be pushed by pump/grinders up the hill to the 10-inch main running along Route 394.

GHD, the engineering company involved, has laid out in good detail how the overall system will work. The sewer “main” will run right along Route 394 from near the BOCES school to Hadley Bay Road, where it will cross under I-86.It will exit on the Stow side of the expressway at Old Bridge Road. The main will end there and a 2-3 inch gathering lateral will pick up the sewage in Stow for all of those low-lying parcels along the lake up to and including Hogan’s Hut.

The completion of Phase I of the project will end at Stow and Phase II up to Prendergast Point will not begin until additional funding can be found. Phase III (and the final phase) of the “Westside Extension” project which will cover the hamlet of Ashville is also “on hold” until more money can be found to complete the project.

Building sewers is time-consuming yet important work. Can you imagine Bemus Point without sewers? Yet, such was the case until the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A lot of lessons were learned in running sewers up to the Bemus area, and one was that low pressure sewer lines are much less expensive to build than gravity lines.Similar low pressure lines with pump grinders will be installed in this new extension in North Harmony.Because of the 8.3-mile distance and the vertical elevation involved at Ramsey Road and BOCES, two new pump stations will be needed: one in the Hadley Bay area and the other near the BOCES school.

Though the COVID-19 crisis has made things a bit more difficult, the engineering program is moving ahead and detailed drawings are expected to be finished this year so that bids can be taken in March 2021. The current price tag estimate is $16.6 million. Of this, about $8 million has been raised in the form of grants from New York state.The remainder will be financed by an interest-free loan from the state. Bids will need to come in at or below this estimate if the project is to proceed. Construction is projected to begin in 2021 and end in 2023.

It is sort of the American way to beat up on government and complain about its cost.

Yet, this kind of infrastructure construction could not happen without government — this time in the form of a sewer district expansion. If history is any lesson (based upon what happened when sewers went in across the lake,) sewers on the west side of Chautauqua Lake will raise property values as well as help clean up the lake. This is the kind of long-term, beneficial investment that we should be proud of.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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