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Whispering Oaks sewer project in motion

Officials have set the Whispering Oaks sewer system improvements project in motion.

The development, which has struggled with a failing sewer system for more than a decade and was fined by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for raw sewage draining into the Seneca River, must have a fully operational system by April 30, 2012. The deadline is a requirement of both the DEC and a New York State Water Quality Improvement Program grant, which was awarded to the district to help cover costs for the project.

The $1.134 million grant will cover 85 percent of construction costs for improvements to the existing pump station, installation of a chlorine feed system, associated building, and emergency generator, demolition of existing pumps, bases and controls, removal of the existing absorption bed system and site reclamation (overall maximum project cost: $1.34 million). It will also cover a portion of the cost to install a six-inch, 9,700-foot force main along Route 370 from the Whispering Oaks development to the southern end of Dexter Parkway (West Genesee Sewer District).

While a four-inch force main would have been sufficient for the connection, town officials have decided to upgrade to a six-inch main to enable future developments to connect, and ultimately share the cost of the district. Eighty-five percent of the excess capacity construction costs (estimated at $128,000) will be covered by the grant. However, $62,000 will come from Lysander's general fund to finance the project. Lysander officials defended the decision, stating it was in the interest of public planning and the town was being proactive in anticipating future developments, which can connect to the system and ultimately share the cost. The increase from a four-inch to six-inch force main can accommodate approximately 125 additional units.

Michelle Borden, a Barton & Loguidice engineer who is working on the project, said bids will go out in the spring primarily to obtain better pricing.

Whispering Oaks residents can expect an annual user cost between $649 and $845. This includes estimated costs for installation of the system, which range from $249 to $445 per unit per year (these estimates depend on interest rates and financing terms, which range from zero percent for 30 years to 2.1 percent for 20 years). Residents can anticipate the increase in the 2012 tax bill.

The Whispering Oaks Sewer District plan is available on the town web site at townoflysander.org.

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