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!