Cobleskill is looking for ways to reduce the cost of a major sewer and water expansion project after learning available funding falls more than a million dollars short of projected construction costs.
State, county, town and private funding are being directed toward the effort to extend water and sewer service from Borst Noble Road east to the town line on Route 7. The project is seen as a major step toward economic development in Schoharie County that would put sewer and water infrastructure in place to serve Howe Caverns and promote further development along the corridor.
Bids from nine different contractors, opened last month, put the project’s estimated cost at $9.9 million, roughly $1.3 million more than available funding.
Despite the gap, Cobleskill town Supervisor Thomas Murray said two possible sources of funding could make up the difference. One would be the U.S. Economic Development Administration — an entity officials say hasn’t provided assistance in Schoharie County since 1987.
The town has already been turned down four times for EDA funding, but Murray said there’s a new round of grants worth trying for. He said he’s been contacting federal legislators in hopes of garnering any support they might offer toward an application.
But even if the grant effort is unsuccessful, Murray said the project is going forward.
“We don’t need that to get this done,” he said.
The other potential source of money is Howe Caverns Inc., which has already committed to providing $2 million toward the project over the course of 20 years. Murray said officials at the tourist attraction are considering as much as $1 million in additional funding.
Cost savings are being pursued, as well. There’s a new type of plastic piping that could be used that might lead to savings, and Murray said engineers are exploring ways to reduce an estimated $965,000 in “soft costs,” including $715,000 in engineering fees, $65,000 in bond and special legal services, $65,000 in fees to acquire more than 40 easements and $120,000 in miscellaneous costs.
Up to now, funding includes $4.1 million from the state, $2 million from Schoharie County, $2 million from Howe Caverns, $226,000 from the town, $150,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission and $175,000 from National Grid.
Murray said officials are confident estimates from contractors are valid — nine different contractors submitted bids for the project, with the four lowest bids within $400,000 of each other.