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Hadley eyes wastewater improvements

A rough outline of the proposed improvements was presented to the board by Tighe & Bond, an engineering and environmental consulting company that has worked with the town in the past and recently provided engineering for similar pump station renovations for South Hadley.

The renovations are designed to improve worker safety and the efficiency of cleaning and repairs, as well as minimize the likelihood that the pumps will suffer catastrophic failures. If Town Meeting approves the work, it would likely be funded through a loan paid with wastewater income. Currently, Hadley has no wastewater debt and the department is building reserves.

“I’m not on sewer and I don’t expect I ever will be where we’re living,” said Selectman Brian West. “As long as the sewer users pick it up ... and it’s good for the town, I got no problem with it. It’s probably long overdue.”

None of the four Select Board members present at the meeting is on the sewer system.

The pump stations that Tighe & Bond recommends replacing are the main pump, which handles all water coming into the wastewater treatment plant at Bay Road and Middle Street, and a station at Bay Road and West Street that is at risk of flooding. Both stations were built in 1964, though the main pump was renovated in 1988.

Tighe & Bond estimates construction costs for the pump station at Middle Street at $360,000 and $259,000 for the station at West Street. The consultants anticipate another $207,000 in engineering and other related costs for both projects.

In total, they expect the project would cost $826,000, though bids from contractors could substantially change the final cost.

John Waskiewicz, the town’s assistant chief wastewater operator, said these pumps require significantly more maintenance than the newer pumps the town has. He said that since 1988 the town has spent close to $80,000 repairing the pump at Middle Street, in addition to the time town employees devote to maintenance.

“It’s just one thing after another,” said Waskiewicz, who will be working on the Middle Street pump today. “It’s scary sometimes when you got water leaking in that drywall. You don’t know what’s going to happen — whether you’re going climb out or swim out.”

The town’s wastewater treatment system is approaching capacity, and town officials anticipate that the capacity will need to be expanded within the next several years.

In other business, the board authorized Town Administrator David Nixon to begin seeking a new full-time fire chief, pending funding for the position from Town Meeting on May 2.

The board also voted to sign a letter expressing interest in participating in regional forums led by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission about casino-related issues. The forums would focus on transportation, economic development, and mitigating negative impacts from casinos.

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