PITTSFIELD, Maine — As Yogi Berra said, it was deja vu all over again at the Pittsfield Town Council meeting Tuesday night. Tim Nichols, who is starting his 12th year on the council, was re-elected mayor, and the crucial topic of the night was an ongoing one: water and sewer issues.
Town Manager Kathryn Ruth outlined $5.2 million in projects that would be funded through a zero interest loan from the state if Pittsfield were awarded the funds.
“This could be the beginning,” Ruth said, referring to years of deferred maintenance to a crumbling infrastructure.
Interim Water-Sewer Superintendent Scott Noble told the councilors that the condition of the infrastructure can be blamed on “years of no money” to upgrade an aging and antiquated system.
“We have hydrants we can’t get parts for. We have water mains that if we dug them up, we’d find four repair bands in a 6-feet section of pipe,” Noble said.
The waterworks was founded in 1891 and miles of clay pipe are leaking.
The $5.2 million would be used for four water projects:
ä Replacement of broken and unusable water valves.
ä Installation of a backup water pump at the water treatment plant.
ä Replacement of 6,800 feet of water mains.
ä Replacement of 50 fire hydrants.
Also, two sewer projects would be completed:
ä A television camera inspection of high-flow areas and a complete study of the system.
ä Replacement of clay sewer pipes with high-leakage rates, including Peltoma Avenue, Nichols, Livingston, Lincoln and Cianchette streets.
Olver Associates of Winterport will conduct a survey of water-sewer users to determine whether the town can apply for alternate funding.
Mandy Oliver told the council, “Because your rates are so low, you don’t quality for some grants, such as Maine Rural Water or Community Development Block Grants. This is why it is so important to do the survey.” Raising rates and determining if more than 50 percent of the users are low-income families would put the town in a good position for grants beyond the zero interest loan.
Ruth told councilors that because new water meters were installed in 2008, the town was able to enact a water rate increase of 44 percent. “We are now strategically placed,” she said.
Councilors also swore in new councilor Caleb Curtis, who was elected in November 2008; elected Gary Jordan Jr. as deputy mayor; set up town committees; appointed representatives to various state and regional assemblies and coalitions; and appointed an animal control officer.
The council also:
ä Set a public hearing for Jan. 20 to accept a $32,200 Riverfront Community Development Grant to upgrade and renovate Pinnacle Park as a year-round recreational facility. It would include walking trails, fishing platforms, a skating rink and skateboarding area, and a boat launch.
ä Accepted the bid of Credere Associates LLC of Portland for engineering services for a Brownfield Clean Up project at Eelweir Road, now called Mount Road. The winning bid was $21,400, which will be paid from a $40,000 federal grant.
ä Set a public hearing for Jan. 20 to complete the grant of $150,000 received for reconstruction of water and age-damaged areas of the Pittsfield Public Library.