By Lisa Capobianco
Town officials are planning for a sanitary and sewer pump station on Welch Road—an expansion project that would enhance the Southington’s economic development if approved by voters during referendum this fall.
The goal of the project is to provide sanitary sewer service to the northwest section of town, promoting economic development in large areas that are currently undeveloped. The project also allows the final one-third of North Ridge Estates to be connected to public sewer, said local developer Mark Lovley, who is building 94 homes on the North Ridge Golf Club, LLC which he owns.
According to the recent meeting minutes of the Sewer Committee, the project calls for a proposed pump station located on the south side of Welch Road, within an easement on property that Lovley will provide the town. Residents of Welch Road and two other streets just below the golf driving range who are currently on a septic system will not be required to connect to the public sewer, provided that they have a functioning septic system, according to the Engineering Department.
The project is estimated to cost around $2.6 million, which Town Manager Garry Brumback has requested in his Capital Improvement Plan in his recently proposed budget. If the council votes to approve the proposed sewer expansion, costs of the project will be included in a referendum question in November. If approved by the majority of registered voters, construction for the project is expected to start next spring or summer.
“We’re very excited about being able to focus on economic development in that part of town,” said Town Councilor Cheryl Lounsbury, who serves as vice chairperson of the Sewer Committee. “This would allow other businesses and retail to look favorable in that area of town.”
Town officials have said that a sewer expansion on Welch Road would greatly reduce environmental effects, is easier to construct, and eliminates controversy as well as a need for an easement. They said the expansion on Welch Road eliminates the need for an original route of the West Side Interceptor, which was estimated to be more expensive with costs between $4.2 and $4.8 million, and more harmful to the environment, as it would have caused the clearing of mature trees and wetlands crossings. It was also opposed by the Forestville Fishing Club, according to officials.
“I think the benefits of this are enormous,” said Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio, adding that the West Side Interceptor route would have caused major disruptions.
Town officials said the sewer expansion would also benefit Lincoln College of New England. Located on Mount Vernon Road, Lincoln College is currently on a septic system, and town officials said the sewer expansion would give the school an opportunity to expand their campus.
“The option will be there if they want to expand,” said Riccio, adding that the project would also benefit Lake Compounce.
Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo said he recently met with officials at Lincoln College in New Jersey the purpose of meeting with officials of Lincoln College several weeks ago to inform them about the project.
“We wanted to let them have awareness of what was going on in Southington,” said Perillo, adding that septic systems fail over time. “We recognize the importance of Lincoln College to the community.
Spencer McNiven, the Vice President of Operations and Student Affairs at Lincoln College, said being connected the public sewer system would allow the school to start having conversations about expanding. Recently, Lincoln College added a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and business administrations.
“As we can expand the college, we have the option to now offer more programs for those in the area,” said McNiven. “In the past, we’ve expanded in other locations because we were limited here.”
McNiven said currently, there are around 850 students enrolled at Lincoln College in Southington this year, with the majority of students commuting.
About 75 to 80 percent of the on-campus apartments are full.
“Right now we can only house 200 people on campus, so if we have sewers and we can build and expand, that allows us to bring in more individuals that don’t live right here in the community, and when we do that, that increases the amount of revenue that the school has, which increases the amount of taxes the school pays to the town,” said McNiven, adding that he would also like to bring more community-focused activities to the campus.