Waitsfield voters will be asked to approve a $13 million municipal wastewater bond at Town Meeting 2024. Getting that far will require that the town and its project team meet stringent time deadlines.
The town is working with the Mad River Valley Planning District executive director Joshua Schwartz and engineers at Dubois and King on a preliminary design and funding options to bring municipal wastewater to Waitsfield Village and Irasville in order to foster infill development (including housing) and improve water quality and river protection.
Schwartz presented an update on progress to date at a combined meeting of the Waitsfield Select Board and Planning Commission on Monday, April 17, 2023.
Schwartz told the board that a draft of the preliminary engineering report (PER) would be received by the town next month on May 23 and said a final PER would be discussed at a June 5, 2023, meeting of the board. Amendments to that PER will need to be finalized by June 9, 2023, and the PER needs to be finished before the state and town fiscal year end on June 30, 2023.
The funding team, led by town zoning/planning administrator JB Weir, is exploring potential funding sources for the design phase and potential future construction of the wastewater system.
Schwartz explained the funding scenario to date, noting that in the spring of 2022, the town received $78,753 from the CWSRF (Clean Water State Revolving Fund) to fund the Feasibility Study done by Dubois and King. In March of 2023, the town received approval from the CWSRF for $120, 655 in funding to cover the PER. The Project Priority List application for Design and Construction funding for FY24 was completed in March and submitted to the CWSRF for inclusion on its Intended Use Plan for FY24.
Weir completed an application for Congressionally-Directed Spending through Senator Sanders’ office and it was submitted on March 10, 2023. The request was for $5 million to help cover design and construction costs. Weir was subsequently asked by Haley Perot at Bernie Sanders’ office for more information on the project in relation to the Congressionally-Directed Spending application he submitted in late February. Earlier this month Perot asked why the town did not ask for more funding given the anticipated costs of more than $13M in design and construction. Weir followed up with a revised request for more than $10M (given the required non-federal match of 20%). The funding team will also be applying for funding from the Northern Borders Regional Commission this April in anticipation of getting on its priority list.
The town is working with Dubois & King on the engineering firm’s recommendation to include in the PER the study’s Scenario 5B (Munn site, two existing sites in town, and northern site) as well as for Scenario 2 (connect additional users to the water system). In January, the select board approved a Dubois and King recommendation on what information will be used to further define the cost of the preferred solutions feasibility costs. The PER and EID scope was approved by the Waitsfield Select Board on 1.23.23. Schwartz explained that this marked a transition from feasibility study (Phase 1A) to the engineering work required to advance the project (Phase 1B).
In 2022, the Waitsfield Select Board, Planning Commission and Water Committee underwent a wastewater and water feasibility “to explore options for infrastructure improvements, wastewater solutions and potential expansion of water service for Irasville and Waitsfield Villages,” according to the town’s website.