In September 2021, the Town of Westford was awarded a $466,194 grant by the Northern Borders Regional Commission (NBRC) and Economic Development Administration to support the Community Wastewater Project. These are competitive grants, and the NBRC grant is particularly competitive as it includes applications from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. This grant is one piece of a funding stack being developed by the town in order to affordably move the community wastewater project to construction, if approved by the voters.
The town was also granted a Step 2 State Clean Water Revolving Fund loan for $250,351 with $125,000 forgiven upon issuance. The remaining $125,351 will not be spent until such time as additional funds become available, such as state or local ARPA funds, or a bond vote occurs. These funds will be used for final design and permitting, which will make Westford the only town in the state with a shovel-ready proposal to develop a new community wastewater system in a village setting.
We owe a lot of gratitude to all those that worked on the grant applications, and especially Liz Curry, our Grant Writer. Great work, Liz! Additional grants are being pursued and we will share information as it becomes available.
In early September, the outreach group sent a questionnaire to 31 households and potential system users and received responses. We are still in the process of receiving responses and, so far, have received responses from half of the potential users. Here are the results of the questionnaire thus far:
● 34 properties are in the proposed sewer service area (PSSA).
● 31 property owners own structures in the PSSA .
● 51.61% of the property owners in the PSSA responded to the survey.
● 62.5% of respondents said they are interested in connecting to the system during construction.
● 18.75% of respondents said they may be interested in connecting to the system during construction.
● 18.75% of respondents said they are not interested in connecting to the system during construction.
Based on received responses, over 80% of respondents are interested or possibly interested in connecting to the proposed community wastewater system.
In November, the Planning Commission will be working with our Consultant, J.B. Hinds, regarding potential bond vote language and to review example sewer ordinances. The goal will be to provide very preliminary bond vote language to share with the Selectboard and the Town's attorney, as well as beginning to frame the principles and policies around the governance of a community wastewater system. Also in November, the Step 2 work described above will ramp up and is expected to continue through the winter and early spring.
Finally, the Community Wastewater Public Engagement Working Group will be coordinating a field trip for all interested residents to at least one existing community wastewater system that is similar to the proposed system for Westford. Please stay tuned for more information on when and where!
Thanks to all who were able to attend the informational meeting on Tuesday evening either in person or via zoom. We had 100 folks attend in total, which was great to see. A big thank you to Westford School folks for setup and tech support, as well as Lake Champlain Access Television for helping us have our very first large public hybrid meeting in town!
If you weren't able to attend, you can watch a recording of the meeting here:
Stay tuned for more announcements regarding further meetings, and please reach out to the Planning Commission with any questions or comments: https://www.westfordsfuture.com/contact.html
In September 2021, the Town of Westford was awarded a $466,194 grant by the Northern Borders Regional Commission (NBRC) and Economic Development Administration. These are competitive grants, and the NBRC grant is particularly competitive as it includes applications from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. This grant is one piece of a funding stack being developed by the Town in order to affordably move the community wastewater project to construction, if approved by the voters.
In September, we were also granted a Step 2 State Clean Water Revolving Fund loan for $250,351 with $125,000 forgiven upon issuance. The remaining $125,351 will not be spent until such time as additional funds become available, such as state or local ARPA funds, or a bond vote occurs. These funds will be used for final design and permitting, which will make Westford the only town in the state with a shovel-ready proposal to develop a new community wastewater system in a village setting.
-Melissa Manka, Westford Town Planner
As you may know, the Planning Commission has been working on studies, plans, projects and funding sources since 2007 to support the vitality of the Town Center and the future potential of the common area. One of the foundational ways to support Westford's future is to create a modern and functional wastewater system that allows continued use and thoughtful development within the Town Center. A lot of forward movement has happened this year on the project, and we want to make sure everyone is up to date on the Community Wastewater Project. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
-We formed a public engagement working group this summer, composed of Westford residents who are committed to help get the word out about the project. Those group members include Pat Haller, Heather Armata and Eric Ford, in addition to Gordon Gebauer and Seth Jensen from the Planning Commission, Melissa Manka, the Town Planner, and project consultant Juli Beth Hinds, Principal of Birchline Planning LLC, a planner specializing in water infrastructure, financing & community engagement, and Amy Macrellis, Senior Water Quality Specialist, with Stone Environmental, who has been involved in the technical studies, project development, and outreach for the project since 2007.
-In addition to the Planning Commission's work identifying soils, engineering designs and applying for state/federal grants to support this project, work has been focused on creating an outreach plan to the community, beginning with the potential wastewater system users in the common area. To that end, the task force hosted an informational meeting at the Westford Common Hall on August 17th to hear questions and concerns from residents. Paper surveys have also been distributed to potential users to get more feedback and help understand questions about the project.
-A website has been created to support information and communication about the project (You're looking at it! :)) - Here you will find all the basic project information, regularly updated questions and answers about the project, as well as supporting documents, blog posts and events related to the project. If you are on Facebook, make sure to like and follow Westford’s Future for info and updates.
-The task force hosted a site visit with potential system users and designers on September 26th on the common in order to help visualize the potential system’s layout and components, and to answer questions. The task force will also join the Westford senior lunch planned for October to introduce the project to attendees and enjoy some dessert together.
-We are very excited to announce the first town-wide public meeting about the Community Wastewater Project, scheduled for Tuesday, October 19th from 6:30-8:30pm at Westford School. This meeting will be the first opportunity to present the project to the town as a whole, and we look forward to sharing details and hearing your questions and concerns. This will be a hybrid virtual/in-person meeting, with more details to come for those that wish to participate remotely. All Covid-safe precautions will be made for those who want to attend in person.
As always, please feel free to reach out to Melissa Manka, Town Planner with questions and concerns: email@example.com, (802) 878-4587
Planning Commissioners: Koi Boynton (Vice-Chair), George Lamphere (Chair), Gordon Gebauer, Seth Jensen, Mark Letorney: Westford Planning Commission: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Wastewater Public Engagement Working Group: Heather Armata, Eric Ford, Gordon Gebauer, Pat Haller, Seth Jensen
Wastewater Consultants: Brad Washburn (Project Engineer) , Green Mountain Engineering, Juli Beth Hinds, Principal, Birchline Planning LLC & Amy Macrellis (Senior Water Quality Specialist), Stone Environmental.
Recently, an updated conceptual drawing was provided by the engineering team working on the wastewater design. This drawing shows the general service area, conceptual design, and step tanks including pre-treatment components for the wastewater system. There may be changes that effect the final design as plans evolve, but this design does give a good overall sense of the design plans. This design also illustrates step tank locations for houses without state approved systems. CLICK HERE to see the full design, or visit the RESOURCES page to see this file and many other important documents related to the project.
-Eric Ford, Outreach Team Member