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North East makes progress with highway garage, wastewater projects

NORTH EAST — Addressing two key local projects that have been long overdue, the North East Town Board approved a resolution to solicit bids for the joint village and town highway garage’s construction and an agreement with Tighe & Bond regarding the North East Wastewater District. It did so at its meeting on Thursday, Dec. 9, held at 7 p.m. at North East Town Hall.

Joint garage project

Town Supervisor Chris Kennan reminded the board that the town has completed construction of the fuel tanks (now being used by the town, village and North East Fire District), the storage building and the salt and sand structure at the new garage site. That leaves the actual construction of the garage facility itself as the last phase of the project to be built.

Equipped with the design for the garage building, Kennan said the board authorized the town to go out to bid for final phase of the project earlier this year. However, because the bids the board received were almost $1 million higher than the original estimates for the project, the board rejected those bids.

At the time those bids were submitted, the cost of materials were spiking due to substantial shortages in labor, which Kennan said likely contributed to the overpriced bids.

He explained at the Dec. 9 meeting that the board held off on putting the project out to bid until the winter, when contractors usually begin to schedule work for their summers.

He hoped by doing so that the board could then put the project out to bid in early January when people get back from their holiday activities and plan their calendars.

“It’s something that we need to get done,” said Councilman George Kaye. “We’ve already got the first two parts of this project completed… It’s time to get it done.”

Kennan agreed and said the timing at this point is optimal, and it may be possible to get a lower bid. The board unanimously passed the resolution to rebid the construction of the highway garage.

Town sewer system

Turning to another important issue, Kennan said the town has needed a sewer for decades.

“It has been elusive, it’s been daunting and it just hasn’t moved forward despite efforts over the years,” he said.

With the benefit of changing technology, Kennan said the town no longer has to face ripping up Main Street to install a sewer system. There’s also more funding available for water and wastewater projects.

With Millerton pursuing its own wastewater system, he noted the village wants to develop a wastewater district and construct a treatment plant, both of which would be located inside the village lines.

The town is also looking to create a wastewater district, outside village boundaries. Kennan said it would likely start along Route 44 in the Boulevard District, going out toward Kelsey Brook and perhaps further.

To move forward, the town must create a Map, Plan & Report for the potential North East Wastewater District. The town has engineers working with the village on its wastewater project who are prepared to assess where a wastewater district would best be situated in the town of North East.

As a member of the Wastewater Committee assembled by the village, town Councilmember Lana Morrison reported the committee is meeting weekly and getting close to visiting properties for Phase 2 of the project.

Kennan said that’s the first tangible step the town has taken toward getting a wastewater system. He added it received American Rescue Plan Act money provided to towns for infrastructure projects during the pandemic. Though he anticipates future funding challenges, he noted there will likely be more resources made available in the future.

“This is a simple step today but it’s going to be a lot more complicated down the road,” Kennan said, yet he remained optimistic. “It’s further than the town has gotten before.”

The board also gave unanimous approval for Tighe & Bond to prepare a Map, Plan & Report for the town’s future Wastewater District.

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