After a lengthy Stonington Water Company meeting (see related story on page 1), the September 9 Stonington Selectmen’s meeting again centered on a quasi-municipal system, this time the Stonington Sanitary District.
Sanitary District board member Stephen York addressed the selectmen, saying that he had come to make sure that any work the SSD did would not be a surprise to the selectmen, or to the town as a whole.
The issue is the SSD line that runs the length of the Hagen Dock, serving the Fisherman’s Friend Restaurant, the Stonington Fire Department and Penobscot East Resource Center.
Concerned about the condition of the iron pipe which carries the sewage, the SSD had a camera videotape the length of the line. Because of a blockage, possibly caused by the retrieval of the camera itself, the last 80 feet of line has to be examined. The rest of the line shows signs of rust and flaking.
The selectmen suggested that before the line is dug up, the SSD have the camera approach the blockage from the other side.
The concern is that the line is, at places, so constricted by debris that it is vulnerable to freezing, especially if the Fisherman’s Friend, which closes around Columbus Day, is not using the line.
Although there is general agreement that the line is vulnerable, Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris is absolutely opposed to digging up the line now.
She pointed out that there are 29 sinkholes on the dock, indicating “there is some destabilization going on under the dock. We keep filling the same holes…I’m not sure what we’re going to end up with if the SSD opens it up.” She added that there is no money in the current budget for a project like that.
Continuing, she pointed out that the “SSD would only be taking care of the line they are putting in,” and that the town would be responsible for the rest. Before the town would do such work, “we would have to get engineering. I don’t want to put a substantial amount of money in that. Some 20 feet of that dock belongs to the Fisherman’s Friend. We need to be sure whatever we do is done carefully.”
Billings-Pezaris continued, “The town would end up with the major part of the cost. The town’s interest comes first.” Comparing it to the Moose Island project, she said that she and the selectmen spent a long time discussing it, and the engineer spent a long time planning it.
York said they were going to commission a study of the work, which would cost about $5,000. He added that the SSD can’t do anything without the involvement of the selectmen.
When Selectman Chris Betts asked what the timeline of the project is, Selectman Evelyn Duncan said that it would have to be done in the next couple of years.
Billings-Pezaris listened and then said, “I don’t see being able to do it this year. We don’t have the time or the weather, the asphalt plant is closed down.” She did say that when the town decides to do something it will probably use Andrew McCullough, because he has worked successfully with the town in the past.
When sanitary district board member Fred Whitford asked if McCullough had mechanical engineering experience and how big his staff is, Billings-Pezaris replied, “All you’re doing is replacing a sewer line. This job is more complicated. I don’t like rushing into things. We need to take a little time and figure out exactly what we’re dealing with.”
Sanitary district board member Lisa Jones said, “Before we do anything we’ve got to get an engineer.”
The selectmen awarded sand and fuel bids, each time to the lowest bidder. R.L Greenlaw got the fuel and Brian Billings, the sand.
In other business the selectmen approved the purchase of assessing software, including a sketching module that draws the lot. The program also manages statistics about acreage, property lines, sale dates, square footage of the building, etc. Ultimately it will replace large yellow cards which currently store that information. The cards are kept in the vault, with back-up information in various software programs.