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Don’t miss Amenia Wastewater Committee’s presentation of feasibility study on Aug. 18

AMENIA — Residents, businesses and community leaders of Amenia have recognized for decades that without a municipal wastewater system in the central hamlet, the town won’t thrive. Many septic systems in that area are old and failing; most don’t meet current standards. The majority of systems can’t be replaced, though, because the construction of new septic systems is limited by small lots and high groundwater levels.

For this reason, both Amenia’s 2007 Comprehensive Plan and the 2008 Hamlet Development Study stated without a municipal wastewater system, housing and business development in the hamlet would be nearly impossible.

Likewise, the Dutchess County Department of Behavior and Community Health endorsed the “design and construction of a central sewer system for the hamlet to protect public health and to enhance economic opportunities in the hamlet.”

Amenia has a long history of investigating the wastewater issue and working to address it. Studies and reports regarding central wastewater systems were prepared in 1995, 2003, 2009 and 2012.

Most recently, the Amenia Wastewater Committee (AWC) spent the past two years examining possibilities for a wastewater system in the hamlet.

In 2021, the Town Board selected Tighe & Bond Engineering to perform a new sewer feasibility study. With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 there’s a new urgency; the law allocated almost $12 billion dollars over five years for wastewater projects — nearly half of it in the form of grants and forgivable loans available to communities like Amenia.

Benefits

A central wastewater system in Amenia would provide significant benefits. It would:

• Replace outdated septic systems

• Allow existing businesses to reach their full capacity

• Encourage the growth of new small businesses in the hamlet

• Allow for multi-use buildings with commercial and residential space

• Encourage capital investments, including in much-needed workforce housing

• Protect the environment

• Promote sustainable community development

Current work

The AWC has done extensive research into treatment systems and technologies, conducted site visits, spoken with leaders of neighboring towns, and met with engineers and officials at the Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority.

One of its most important priorities has been community engagement. In December 2021, the AWC mailed all homeowners and business owners in town a Wastewater Survey, asking for details and feedback about their septic systems; personal wastewater-related issues; issues they know of in the hamlet; and their thoughts on a municipal wastewater system.

To encourage feedback, the AWC also conducted targeted outreach by phone and e- mail to residential and business property owners in the central hamlet area. Two-thirds said the hamlet would benefit from a central sewer system and 56% of respondents in the envisioned sewer district said they would connect to a municipal wastewater system.

2022 Feasibility Study

The AWC has been working tirelessly with Tighe and Bond throughout the creation of its detailed sewer feasibility study. It was closely involved in researching potential recovery/return sites, the delineation of the proposed district and discussions around project need, technology applications, expandability and sustainability. Many lessons from past attempts by the town were incorporated into the current study. The report may be found at www.bit.ly/amenia-sewer.

2022 Sewer District Delineation

The study proposes a district centered around the main hamlet at the intersection of routes 22, 343 and 44 and extends:

• North along Route 22 to the Cascade Country Corner including Freshtown Plaza (Cascade Road isn’t included)

• East along Route 343 to the Sun River Health office

• South along Mechanic Street and Depot Hill Road including the residential neighborhood around Midway Avenues, Lango Road, John L Road and Prospect Avenue

• South from the main intersection along Route 343 and Broadway down to Fudgy’s Ice Cream

• West along Route 44 to Welsh Sanitation

It contains 233 parcels (65 commercial and 168 residential).

2022 Estimated user fees

Delivering a residential user fee folks could afford was a top requirement, and the most vocal supporters of a central sewer have been businesses, which have a greater need and will be the biggest beneficiaries.

The engineers used what’s worked in other communities — a higher commercial rate that subsidizes residential users. This allowed the AWC to cap the estimated monthly cost of a single-family user to $63. The average small business estimated monthly cost is $292.

Immediate next steps

Throughout the summer and fall, AWC members will be contacting property owners in the envisioned district to discuss the proposed system. Tighe and Bond will present the 2022 Sewer Feasibility Study to the Town Board on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. Community members are strongly encouraged to attend.

Questions?

Please email all questions and comments to cleanwater@ameniany.gov. 2.

 

Jim Wright is a member of the Amenia Wastewater Committee and Charlie Miller is the committee’s chairman; both men reside in Wassaic.

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