Tupper Laker floats idea for sewer district problem

TUPPER LAKE – Town resident Tony Mercurio offered an idea at a hearing last week that many believe could solve the town’s problem with sewer grinder pumps.

A number of residents of Sewer District 23, which covers the Lake Simond and Moody road areas, showed up to a hearing last Thursday on the topic of grinder pumps. Matt Zande, whose family owns a lot in the district and has been paying district fees, wants to build a house on the lot and has asked the town to buy a grinder pump for it.

The town had proposed two options: The district will not cover the expense at all, or it will pay for the grinder pump and all the equipment associated with it – estimates have ranged from $6,000 to $9,000 – and the Zandes will be responsible for paying a contractor to install it.

Mercurio proposed another option at the hearing. He noted that everyone in town hopes for future development, so this issue could continue to be a problem.

He suggested the town board issue a bond to pay for the grinder pump and associated apparatus and install the pump. He noted that the new homeowner would pay taxes which haven’t been paid to the town before, so instead of taking that money and putting it into the town’s general fund right away, the town could first apply that money to the bond payments.

It’s kind of like a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, said Bob Collier.

“It should be a spreadsheet and a no-brainer,” Mercurio said. “In the long run, the town is going to make money, residents of District 23 aren’t going to have to cough up any more money, and it seems to me it would solve the problem for future development in any of the districts.”

If there are a lot of properties developed at the same time, the debt limit could be exceeded, but Mercurio said the town could deal with that if it ever were to happen.

“This seems to me to be a very painless way to solve his problem, the district’s problem and the town’s problem,” Mercurio said.

When he finished, several people said it was a good idea.

Others stressed that it’s important for the town to create a concrete policy for the future. Town Supervisor Roger Amell said there are 30 lots left in town that could potentially have this problem. They are empty now, but they are in a sewer district.

“You have to make a policy so that you don’t run into this issue every time you turn around,” said Hope Frenette.

The de facto policy up to now has been that people constructing new buildings were responsible for all the costs. Several people in Sewer District 17 have had to pay for their own grinder pumps. But the Zandes have noted that those people never asked the town about it.

Fred Richardson said that when the project began, he was told by town board members that anyone building a new house in the district would be responsible for the full cost of installing grinder pumps. Bob Zande, Matt’s dad, said that may have been the case, but there was never anything in writing stating that.

Mary Chartier said she believes Matt Zande and his wife deserve the help from the town in getting the grinder pump, and her husband agreed.

“Yeah, Matt should get a grinder pump,” Mike Chartier said. “Should it come to District 23? No, it shouldn’t.”

Elaine Yabroudy said that if the Zandes are paying the fees on the district, they should get a grinder pump just like other residents there.

“That’s what we paid for; that’s what we got,” Yabroudy said. “If that’s what you paid for, that’s what you should get.”

Town Councilwoman Patti Littlefield said Mercurio’s idea is a good one, worth looking into. Amell said the town will need to check whether it’s legal.

The town board will have a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. Friday. The grinder pump issue is on the agenda and a final decision is expected to be made.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.