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Public Invited To Talk About Sewers Monday Night

At the Town Council meeting, there will be an overview of the sewer proposals and Town Council discussion, followed by public comment.

A map of Alternate E, the proposal that would bring sewers to the largest number of properties. Credit: Town of NK
A map of Alternate E, the proposal that would bring sewers to the largest number of properties. Credit: Town of NK

You want to talk about sewers in North Kingstown? Now's your chance. After several meetings in which the public was not able to weigh in on sewer discussion, the Town Council meeting Monday, Dec. 16, will allow residents to speak. 

On the agenda is an overview and discussion of five alternative plans for Wickford. In general, the bigger the coverage area, the lower the cost per residence or business. But as state Rep. Larry Ehrhardt pointed out in a summary he produced for members of HistWick, that's "only at the expense of anywhere from 50 to 200 plus homeowners who would face an assessment between $32,949 and $39,795."

To see the town's presentation, click here.

Ehrhardt's summary of the five proposals is included here:

The latest presentation to the council contained five alternatives, interchangeably referred to as A, B, C etc., and 1,2,3. The alternatives and their respective costs are described in the following pages. 

A major change from earlier designs is that only the Wickford Elementary School parcel and residences included in Alternative A would be serviced by a traditional gravity system flowing into a pump station at the corner of Boone & Phillips. Almost all of the properties added in Alternatives B through E would employ what is called a “low-pressure” system in which each building would have a small holding tank and pump. This design lowers the cost. Another significant change is the shift from a cost allocation method based on lineal frontage to a more equitable one based on the expected usage for each property. The new approach is based on “Equivalent Dwelling Units” or EDUs. Every house would be assessed as one EDU. Commercial properties would be assessed at least one EDU and, in many instances some multiple thereof based on expected usage. For example, a restaurant with 50 seats would be assessed 6 EDUs. (A detailed list of EDU ratings for all commercial properties was not provided so it is not clear just what their actual numbers would be. It also was not reported what the rating would be for the Wickford El project.) Sewer assessments ARE NOT tax deductible by homeowners .

Alternative A satisfies the objective of servicing the Wickford Elementary School site that the town is anxious to see developed. Since there would be few users, the cost per EDU is quite high at $67,738. It was not stated how much of the $4.8 million cost would be borne by Wickford El. Alternative B expands on A to basically include the entire Wickford business district and accomplishes what some, but not all, in the business community are lobbying for. Approximately 50 homes on Boone, Cranston & Elam would also be included. The costs per EDU are still high at $45,845 and a number of businesses could be assessed some multiple of that.

Greatly expanding the project to include more residential neighborhoods (Alternatives D & E) has the advantage of lowering the costs for the commercial areas but only at the expense of anywhere from 50 to 200+ homeowners who would face an assessment between $32,949 and $39,795. It should be understood that, while some hookups might be allowed short-term deferrals, every abutting property owner must be assessed for their share regardless of the status of their present system and need for replacement. While a number of homeowners still are using cesspools, they are presently not required to replace them unless they fail. Many other property owners have already upgraded their systems to meet all current requirements. From what we know, most owners have been able to accomplish those improvements for considerably less than $30,000.

Here are stories posted on NK Patch in recent months:

From August: 
Figuring Out Assessments For Completed Sewer Lines
Council Contemplates Extending Sewers To Wickford, Post Road…
Sewers For Shore Acres Could Cost $21K Or More Per Residence

From Sept: 
Council Wrestles With Sewer Issues Present & Future

From Oct.:
Council Continues To Explore Costs To Bring Sewers To…
Sewer Updates: Post Road North Price Reduction, Shore Acres…

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