Schenectady County

Masullo drainage work unlikely to start soon

Work to resolve drainage problems at groundwater-plagued Masullo Estates isn’t likely to be complete

Work to resolve drainage problems at groundwater-plagued Masullo Estates isn’t likely to be completed this year, a town-hired engineer told residents of the neighborhood Wednesday.

Project engineer Brett Steenburgh said financing and bidding is likely to take up to six months. By fall, initial work could start on the project and would likely extend into spring 2009. The system design is complete.

Steenburgh answered questions about the drainage project during a public hearing on a proposed sewer district in Masullo Estates. Last year, town officials suggested installing a dry sewer line through the development as part of a multimillion-dollar drainage and road reconstruction slated for the neighborhood.

The Town Board is expected to decide next month whether it will put the dry sewer line up to a public vote in June. If they decide against conducting the referendum, plans for the sewer line will be effectively quashed.

Many of the nearly four dozen residents attending the public hearing spoke against establishing the sewer district, citing its costs. Mike Budka, a resident of East Lucille Lane, questioned whether the $611 annual cost to residents over 15 years was accurate, given that the figure was significantly more than what was proposed a year earlier.

“Every time I see a cost estimate, the price seems to go up 60 percent or so,” he said.

Steenburgh admitted the price had increased by more than 25 percent as a result of rising construction costs. But he said the sewer pipe — initially proposed as a dry line — will likely be able to connect into the main serving the proposed 261-unit Helderberg Meadows development within the next eight months.

“These sewers may never remain dry as long as people start hooking up to them,” he said.

Other residents questioned the cost of connecting their homes to the proposed line. Among the 88 residences in Masullo Estates, 19 homes would require grinder pumps to move effluent to the line, potentially adding up to $5,000 for the connection cost, Steenburgh said.

The added cost was enough to sway East Lucille Lane resident Michael O’Connor against the project. He said the grinder pump his home would need, coupled with its added maintenance cost, would be burdensome.

“When you begin to add these costs in, it begins to look very unattractive to those affected,” he said.

O’Connor also questioned the motives behind extending sewers into the neighborhood. He said the line could provide a method for developers to build on adjacent woodland now prohibited from development as a result of drainage issues.

“Those land owners stand to benefit disproportionately because of this sewer proposal,” he said.

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