Pre­ston’s waste­water treat­ment plant on sched­ule

Times-Record - - NEWS - By CON­NIE CON­NOLLY cconnolly@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @con­nie_ star­dem.

— The Pre­ston Town Com­mis­sion work ses­sion agenda on Jan. 30 fea­tured only two items, but a for­mer com­mis­sioner added an un­ex­pected chal­lenge by ask­ing the com­mis­sion to ad­dress the “un­fair­ness of the wa­ter and sewer charges.”

Ellery Adams, who served on the com­mis­sion from 2004 to 2009, is­sued a for­mal com­plaint in the form of a let­ter he wanted read into the min­utes. Since min­utes are taken only at reg­u­lar town meet­ings, Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Doug VanDerveer said the com­plaint would be con­sid­ered Mon­day, Feb. 6, when newly elected Com­mis­sioner Kath­leen Barry will be sworn in.

Van­Der veer in­vited Adams to read the let­ter to the com­mis­sion­ers and the nine other at­ten­dees.

In the let­ter, Adams ex­pressed con­cern about the dif­fer­ence be­tween the wa­ter and sewer rates of prop­er­ties he owns in town, a home on Main Street and Jensen-stead Se­nior Apart­ments. He said he is will­ing to pay his fair share, but “the un­fair rate dif­fer­en­tial must be ad­dressed now.”

While Adams did not spec­ify a time­line for the com­mis­sion­ers to ad­dress his com­plaint, he stated in the let­ter that if “this in­jus­tice will be rec­ti­fied to our mu­tual sat­is­fac­tion, I will not ask for any re­bate of past un­jus­ti­fied charges. How­ever, if I am forced to take le­gal ac­tion, I will ask the court to award just com­pen­sa­tion for past over­charges.”

Dis­cus­sion en­sued with Com­mis­sioner Gary Wal­te­meyer speak­ing first. “If you want sep­a­rate me­ters (in the apart­ment build­ing), it can be at your cost.” Wal­te­meyer re­minded Adams the $8 rate set in 2008 with $1 a year in­creases was some­thing Adams was aware of.

Adams told the com­mis­sion­ers, “You do have some con­trol over rates. You have peo­ple (on this com­mis­sion) with high IQs ... I think you can sit around the ta­ble with those IQs and work out some­thing.”

Wal­te­meyer said the com­mis­sion is look­ing for funds to off­set the cost of the waste­water treat­ment plant up­grade project as a means of keep­ing the rates down.

“Trust us, we’re go­ing to look at what’s best and how we can keep the costs down,” Wal­te­meyer said. “Ev­ery­body will have their op­por­tu­nity to speak. The pub­lic will have their in­put.”

“When the apart­ments were built, ev­ery apart­ment should have had a me­ter,” VanDerveer said.

Af­ter more dis­cus­sion, VanDerveer re­turned to the cur­rent dif­fi­culty of nail­ing down numbers. “There are still tons of vari­ables,” he said. Wa­ter rates will not be fi­nal­ized un­til all the loans come in, and the town needs to start cre­at­ing a state-man­dated re­serve fund com­prised of a year’s op­er­at­ing ex­penses or $250,000, he said.

Van­Der veer said the results of a rate study by the Mary­land Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Train­ing were de­layed by the hol­i­days. The pur­pose of the rate study, funded by the state of Mary­land, is to pro­vide the com­mis­sion­ers with a re­search-based wa­ter and sewer rate sched­ule.

The work ses­sion be­gan with Com­mis­sioner Nel­son An­der­son con­duct­ing a sec­ond read­ing of a res­o­lu­tion “set­ting a ten­ta­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion sched­ule for the up­graded sewer project.” The sched­ule was submit­ted by Chris Rogers of the en­gi­neer­ing firm AECOM at the Dec. 19 town com­mis­sion work ses­sion. The first read­ing took place on Jan. 9.

VanDerveer fol­lowed by read­ing a sta­tus re­port on the waste­water treat­ment plant up­grade. He said the de­sign by the en­gi­neer­ing firm AECOM is con­tin­u­ing on sched­ule and about 30 per­cent com­pleted.

The re­port also stated town staff met with Mark Prouty of AECOM and Lenny Gold from MCET on Jan. 19. “A no­table out­come” of the meet­ing “was that the la­goon near­est the town hall would not be re­graded but in­stead would be used for sludge stor­age,” the re­port stated. “In ad­di­tion, the sludge la­goon will also be used for over­flow (and) equal­iza­tion from the in­flu­ent screen dur­ing ex­treme high flows. Other equal­iza­tion is also be­ing pro­vided for lesser high flows.”

The Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment con­firmed no other en­hanced nu­tri­ent re­moval ef­flu­ent lim­its than those in the ma­jor WWTP de­sign would be re­quired, the re­port stated.

Fi­nally, the re­port stated the Caro­line County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion re­viewed an amend­ment to the county’s wa­ter and sewer plan to rec­om­mend ap­proval of the WWTP up­grade. The county com­mis­sion­ers are sched­uled to vote on the amend­ment in Fe­bru­ary.

The play­ground sec­tion of James T. Wright Me­mo­rial Park on Back­land­ing Road in Pre­ston was com­pleted in Jan­uary with the ad­di­tion of state-re­quired en­gi­neered wood fiber mulch. The play­ground was funded by a Mary­land Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources grant writ­ten by com­mis­sioner-elect Barry.

Con­struc­tion of the fit­ness area of the park is sched­uled to be­gin dur­ing the sec­ond week of Fe­bru­ary and be com­pleted in two or three weeks.

PHOTO BY CON­NIE CON­NOLLY

Pre­ston town com­mis­sion pres­i­dent Doug VanDerveer, flanked by com­mis­sion­ers Gary Wal­te­meyer, Nel­son An­der­son and town man­ager Stacey Pin­dell, ad­dresses the con­cerns of Ellery Adams, far left, dur­ing the town com­mis­sion­ers’ work ses­sion on Mon­day, Jan. 30 at the town hall.

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