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Stanley McCoy: Easthampton’s deteriorating infrastructure

Published: 2/17/2020 5:17:50 PM

I was on the Board of Public Works when the rate study was commissioned for Easthampton’s water, sewer and stormwater runoff.

After receiving a multivolume report on the current status of our water and sewer infrastructure, the Department of Public Works asked the BPW for a rate increase, so that they could begin work on the most pressing issues.

The board rejected that request. We asked for a definitive plan on how the city would bring its infrastructure into compliance, and we insisted on a detailed clarification on how this would affect ratepayers. We believed ratepayers should have a transparent blueprint of the effects of any necessary improvements.

With the Tighe & Bond report, we now have an accurate picture of our current status, a projected cost and projected rate affects. However, this doesn’t mean our city is required to be in lockstep with the recommendations in the report. It’s up to our city to decide how aggressively and over what timeline we move forward with the proposals.

I’m no longer on the BPW, but I believe that neither the city nor the BPW has the appetite to use an aggressive approach to the recommendations. I understand that our mayor and city planner are aggressively pursuing federal and state grants to help pay for these improvements.

Fixing this situation is not optional. The current state of our infrastructure is alarming. In some cases, our city is one major weather event away from catastrophe. We have mechanical systems that are so antiquated that parts can’t be found for them when they break down.

Our deteriorating clay infrastructure is over 100 years old, and maintenance on this failing system is wasting valuable resources. We also have the burden of meeting unfunded Environmental Protection Agency mandates for stormwater runoff.

As an Easthampton ratepayer and taxpayer, I understand the reluctance to another fee increase. I would recommend going to the public meeting in February. Listen to the information that they present, then form an opinion. Get involved with the process. We have an opportunity as a community to choose the path of Easthampton’s future.

Stanley McCoy

Easthampton




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