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The Eagles needs water - Waitsfield seeks to extend water project

The wells at the Eagles Resort in Waitsfield are not producing enough water to support the facility and Waitsfield is working to find a way to extend the town's water main to the resort.

At its meeting on Monday, June 24, the Waitsfield Select Board will finalize plans to put forth a bond for the town to borrow up to $200,000 from the USDA to extend the main water line south from Fiddlers Green and under the Mill Brook to the Eagles Resort. Connection and user fees from the Eagles will cover the debt service on that loan and possibly more.

The water commission met with the select board on June 19 to discuss the project and the estimated costs and to explain that the annual fees that the Eagles Resort would pay will more than cover the repayment of the loan. The Eagles has 16 two-bedroom homes and a clubhouse and will represent 17 more Equivalent Residential Units (ERUs) bringing the total ERUs for the town's water system to 232.28.

After the June 19 meeting, the board voted unanimously to bring the proposed bond vote forward at the board's June 24 meeting. The bond vote for the Eagles water extension would be held on July 30, the same day the town is holding a bond vote for its new town offices.

Robin Morris, from the water commission, said that having additional users on the system means that rates for existing system users could go down an estimated 2.5 to 5 percent. Currently, the quarterly rates per ERU for water system users are $210.

The Eagles Resort has already paid a deposit of $8,500, representing 50 percent of the $1,000 per ERU hook up cost. The resort will pay the balance after the bond passes and the loan is finalized through the USDA.

Morris said that in addition to providing water for an important business in Waitsfield (the Eagles sells approximately 20,000 room nights per year), extending the system would also mean extending the fire hydrants and fire protection that much further south.

Last February, Doreene Stewart from the Eagles came to the town's water commission to explain that neither of the resort's primary wells nor its emergency well were producing enough water and that the resort was supplementing with tankers of water.

Water commissioners began exploring whether there were existing loan funds that the town could access. The commission heard last week from USDA Rural Development that a separate loan would be required. The debt from that new loan would be added to the town's water project debt. That debt – which was $3.014 million at the beginning of the year – is paid in two semi-annual payments of $62,360 and is paid for with fees generated by system users.

An application was made for USDA Rural Development for the additional funds and the town has received word that the funds are available – pending a successful bond vote.

Because the bulk of the room nights at the Eagles are from Thanksgiving through May, Morris said, the project would be bid and constructed this summer and fall to provide the Eagles Resort with water for its busy season.

 

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