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Petition launched to support Millerton wastewater system

MILLERTON — Understanding just how important a wastewater system is to attract future businesses and visitors, the Millerton Business Alliance (MBA) recently started a petition drive in support of installing a wastewater treatment system in the village of Millerton. It emailed the petitions to those on its contact list and place copies at a couple of  stores along Main Street.

For those living or operating a business in the village, the lack of a wastewater treatment system is no small matter, especially considering how essential it is to economic development.

In addition to attracting new businesses, North East town Supervisor Chris Kennan said having a wastewater system is important from an environmental standpoint. At the moment, he said the community is dependent on septic systems, many of which are either in poor shape or are failing.

“We have supported the village in making it a priority,” he said. “It’s one of the things we have focused on in our Comprehensive Plan and in the Zoning Review Committee. It has been discussed as an urgent priority, particularly with respect to the Boulevard [Zoning] District.”

Jeanne Vanecko, an active member of both the MBA and the grassroots community betterment group, Townscape of Millerton and North East, said the MBA has been talking about the necessity of a wastewater system for years. 

Believing there may be money for the project, she said, “What we’re trying to do is register our voice about how important that is and offer our support in any way that might be meaningful to get that done.”

Vanecko explained the village hired a special consultant, Victor Cornelius from Endeavor Municipal Development Inc., to help find federal stimulus funding and financing for infrastructure projects in the village, including projects like the renovation of Eddie Collins Memorial Field. 

In turn, she said Cornelius suggested the petition, so when money becomes available and a grant proposal needs to be written, the village won’t have to scurry to collect signatures in support of the project last minute. The idea of a petition was also suggested by Erin Moore of Tighe & Bond, who has been working with the Village Board on a wastewater project for several years now.

“In talking with them, I’m always asking what can we do to get a leg up on any process,” Vanecko said. “If a municipality has a shovel ready project when funds are available, they’re in an advantageous situation… We want to be on the advantage side of that equation.”

In creating the recent petition, Vanecko said the MBA is trying to get all merchants and building owners in the business district to sign their support and urge the Village and Town Boards to pursue all funding opportunities for a wastewater system.

In the petition drive, the MBA mentioned federal funds currently available through the American Rescue Act “for the development of wastewater treatment infrastructure” as well as future monies that will be made available through pending federal infrastructure bills. 

Along with noting the conditions of the village’s aging and inadequate septic systems and the presence of cesspools instead of septic tanks, the MBA emphasized that “the absence of a sewer system in the village has been a serious impediment to economic development in our community, preventing existing eateries from seating to capacity and preventing new restaurants from opening in the village. ”

The petition was launched April 17. Considering the number of businesses in the district, Vanecko estimated 60 to 70 signatures will be needed, adding that she’s hoping to collect them within two weeks. A copy of the petition can be found at Oblong Books & Music at 26 Main St. and another copy can be found at Montage across the street at 25 Main St. 

“I think that the merchants and the business owners are the group that actually stand to benefit the most from a wastewater system,” Vanecko said. “It’s incredibly important to that group of people that this happen. It’s because they’re the primary beneficiaries of it; they have to take an active role in supporting it and making their voices heard to elected officials.”

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