Open cut installation of Bayside sewers, as now being suggested as a cost-saving measure by Warwick Sewer Authority member Carlo Pisaturo, may not cost any less than the directional drilling method planned to avoid disturbing “sacred” Indian grounds.
Last week Pisaturo dismissed efforts to preserve Indian archeological features found in test pits on Tidewater Drive on the basis that gas and water lines have already disturbed the area and besides, there’s no knowing whose bones might be found.
Additionally, he pointed out that a gravity system, rather than the low-pressure system on the drawing boards, would eliminate the need for pumps for the 937 property owners who would gain access to sewers. He thought that could reduce assessment costs to the homeowner by as much as $10,000.
But at Tuesday’s WSA finance committee meeting chaired by John Justo, Pisaturo learned that the Bayside project consisting of the neighborhoods of Riverview, Longmeadow, Highland Beach and Bayside was designed as a gravity project and for that to work, it would require the construction of three pumping stations. Earl Bond, WSA project manager, believes the three stations would push the cost of the project beyond that of the low-pressure system planned.
Furthermore, pointing out that the authority has signed a memorandum of agreement with the state and the EPA, the authority must move ahead with directional drilling.
“There’s not an option with this project,” he said.
With directional drilling, jack pits would be located in Tidewater Drive so as not to alter the archeological features identified. Then drilling at a depth – from 5 to 6 feet – to avoid other utilities and below the features, drilling would be done to allow for the pipe to reach another jack pit.
Last week, John Brown, historic preservation officer for the Narragansetts, said the tribe had recognized the need to complete this project. He was outraged at the suggestion that the open cut system of construction and the possible disturbance of “sacred sites” be used.
Referring to Indian sites, Pisaturo said Tuesday, “no one is seeing them anyway. We’re not digging up a cemetery.”
“In Indian eyes, it is a cemetery,” Bond said.
Later in the meeting, Pisaturo questioned about the repaving of Tidewater Drive that is costing the authority $84,750. Bond said the work is being done to level out the road in response to complaints and that the jack pits for the directional drilling will be minimal digging.
“So you’ve already paved over Tonto,” Pisaturo said to the shock of fellow board members.
Pisaturo reminded fellow members the mayor is concerned by the cost of the project (last estimated between $23 million and $27 million). Solomon has not committed to moving ahead with Bayside, although 70 percent of the property owners who would gain access to sewers have cesspools. Many of those homeowners living within 200 feet of the water must convert to an approved septic system unless sewer construction starts by 2020 and they tie in when completed.
Solomon reiterated Wednesday that he wanted to see the numbers for the cost of the project before WSA moves ahead. He also found Pisaturo’s use of Pocahontas and Tonto in describing the Indians, and his lack of concern to preserve the site, inappropriate.
“I haven’t spoken to him directly, I’m only going by what I read,” Solomon said.
He added, “I have no reason to doubt the reporters, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying without speaking to him directly and asking why would you say something like this, all I can say at this point is that it’s nothing that I condone. It’s nothing that my administration believes in or is a part of. It’s nothing that the Sewer Authority, the fire department or the police department or anywhere else that I’ve made appointments [would] endorse.”
Bond said plans for the Bayside project would be ready for bids by late spring or early next summer. Until those bids are in place and all variables of the project have been considered, Bond and Justo are reluctant to make any estimates on assessment costs. Their fear is that after arriving at one cost unforeseen issues require additional borrowing that would push up homeowner costs.
Authority board members had no response to Longmeadow homeowner Mark West who suggested the Bayside project be put to a vote of homeowners. Six years ago, West spent $30,000 to install a septic system.
“If the people don’t want [sewers], why are we going through all this stuff?”