Salem water, sewer bond off warrant
SALEM - An $800,000 bond project for the extension of town sewer and water to the Pond Street area has been removed from the 2013 town warrant after several residents voiced their concerns to the Board of Selectmen.
During Monday night's meeting, the board voted unanimously to remove Warrant Article 2 from the ballot. As it stands now, replacement of existing lines on Pond Street and overall construction remain part of the town-wide roadway reconstruction plan for next year. However, residents of Stillwater Circle, a neighborhood of homes off Pond Street close to the Massachusetts state border, told the board a positive vote on Article 2 would have proven costly for many of them.
Stillwater Circle resident Charles Albert said the installment of town water and sewer "would offer no meaningful improvement" to his neighborhood, and would, in fact, cost some residents up to $20,000 each to take part in the project due to Demand and Benefit Assessment fees and interest charges.
Town Manager Keith Hickey said the extension would have impacted 47 properties for sewer and 32 properties for water. The board ultimately agreed any decision should rest with the residents who'd be most affected.
"If 10 people don't want it and 30 do, I'm going to side with the majority," Selectman Everett McBride said, suggesting that residents could petition the town if enough of them wish for the item to return to the ballot next year. Twenty-five registered voters must sign a citizen's petition to be considered for the ballot. Selectman Michael Lyons said he, for one, was "really glad this item isn't in the road program right now."
Lyons suggested the town contact Stillwater Circle residents by letter to notify them the town is no longer sponsoring the warrant.
"If they want this, they can go and get it," he added. "I guarantee half of them want it: let them get the signatures and bring it forward.
Selectman Stephen Campbell agreed the best option is leaving it up to the residents to decide.
"We'll make sure everyone is aware what his or her options are," he said. "But if this neighborhood doesn't want this, there are plenty of other things we could do with $800,000."
Stillwater Circle resident Marilyn Deldonno said she supported Lyons' approach.
"We feel like the neighbors deserve a chance to speak," Deldonno said. "And we hope if the letter does go out, it includes details on what it would cost us,"
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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com..