By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — The borough is moving ahead with a project to install a water line for Crestwood Drive residents.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved to enter into a service agreement with the Connecticut Water Company to extend a water main 3,340 linear feet to the area. Homes in the area are served by well water, and many those residents have been experiencing water quality and quantity issues. All the residents would pay a fee over the course of 20 years or all at once but the cost would differentiate depending if the homeowner tied in to city water.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.53 million which normally would be paid for completely by residents on the street due to state laws. However after a lengthy process with Connecticut Water Company and the state Department of Public Health and the state, the borough received $896,000 in funding which leaves the balance to $635,000 according to Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess.
“There’s people who are in dire need of water. There’s people who want to have better water. There’s people who’ve elected to tie in because they think it’s a better long term deal and then there’s also people who do not want it,” Hess said at the Feb. 1 borough board meeting. “The majority want to do it so the borough went ahead with the project. We got the best deal we can for the residents.”
Although every homeowner doesn’t have to tie in for the project, every resident will be assessed and have to pay.
There are 61 houses that could be serviced on that street. The borough anticipates 43 residences will tie into city water according to Mayoral Aide James McGrath.
If a resident ties in for the city water, depending if the person abandons the well, the estimated cost is about $7500 to $9000. If a homeowner doesn’t tie in, the projected cost is about $3500 to $4000, McGrath said.
Borough officials are using the estimated construction cost from Connecticut Water Company but won’t know the exact figures until the project is complete and a hearing is held, according to McGrath.
“If the residents were responsible for the entire cost, without the benefit and the financial contributions of the water company, it would cost residents between $20,000 and $25,000,” McGrath said subsequently.
Some residents have spoken out in the past critical of the cost being handed to homeowners. A Crestwood Drive homeowner, Alicia Makowski, who is a Board of Education member, said she was disappointed that she would have to pay although she doesn’t want to tie in for city water.
“I have a well and I paid a lot of money for my well. We dug wells on that property and we’ve lived there for 27 years, almost 28 years it’ll be this year, that we’ve lived on that street and I’ve never had a problem,” Makowski said. “Even if I moved, I have that penalty that I have to go ahead and pass off to another owner. It’s unfair.”
“Everyone on the street will have to pay the assessment which is state law, whether it’s fair or not,” Hess said.
Makowski said the people that are participating in the project should pay for the project
“The majority of the people, the large majority, want this so that’s why it’s going to happen,” Hess said. “When it came forward, the question was, do you want it or do you not want it and the large majority wants it.”
The borough isn’t paying anything but is acting as a conduit to provide the ability to obtain state funding. The process has included a few in-person and Zoom meetings, Hess added.
Borough attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said the state law is clear that towns don’t pay for public water for residents.
“The borough doesn’t have the prerogative to exempt individuals from that cost,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are not permitted to do that as a matter of law and that’s very clear in the statue. It’s not something that we have control over.”
“When their subdivision was built, the developer elected not to provide city water and elected to do wells,” Hess said. “Unfortunately some of those lots are in a situation where it’s very difficult for them to get water and get wells.”
Multiple burgesses agreed during the meeting this was the right direction to go.
Burgess Charles P. Marenghi said this is a long term problem as his friend lived on Crestwood Drive and had problems dating back to the 1980s.
“We really looked at every facet of how it’s going to impact everyone and it’s unfortunate the state law says everybody has got to pay but we did a needs assessment as a board,” Marenghi said.
“Unfortunately there are times when we have to look at what’s good overall,” Burgess Francis Dambowsky said. “What’s good for the health for the people, their need for the water.”
Deputy Mayor Robert A. Neth said people’s property values are going to rise and their insurance rates are going to drop due to having city water.
The area will have a fire hydrant with the project, Dambowsky added.
The Connecticut Water company anticipates to putting the project out to bid early of this month, according to McGrath.