Because of two important developments in December, the Planning Commission has concluded that at this time it is prudent to delay a bond vote on the proposed wastewater project. There will not be a bond vote on the wastewater project at March 2022 Town Meeting, for two reasons.
First, the State of Vermont has yet to make its formal commitment of funding to the Town of Westford. The State has dedicated ARPA and Village Wastewater funding in hand. In the fall, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources stated in its public presentation that Westford would be one of the two communities (along with Montgomery) receiving FY22 funds. Between the pandemic and other delays at the State, the full commitment has not been made. Without the specifics of this commitment, we cannot calculate the cost to taxpayers or system users.
Second, the Town has new – and unexpected - options for the design of the leach field at the Maple Shade Town Forest. In the course of the regular, planned engineering evaluation of soil conditions at the site last November, the engineering team found the soils are significantly better-suited for effective wastewater treatment than we anticipated. This has important implications for design, the need for pre-treatment, and costs. Our engineering team and the Town need time to fully understand and choose the best design option for the community.
The Planning Commission will be moving forward with the community wastewater project in a transparent way, continuing to keep the community informed and engaged as the new engineering options are evaluated. As financial information comes in from the State, we will work with the Selectboard on taxpayer implications and user rates. The public information meeting previously scheduled for February 8th will be rescheduled to a later date when a complete picture of the engineering and financial options can be presented. While we do not yet know when a bond vote will occur, we anticipate the vote will occur on or before election day in November 2022.