Board discusses town water supply

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JAMAICA — With thoughts about developing a village water system, the town is accepting proposals for studies.

"Everything in economic development has to be explored in order for the town to grow," Select Board member Joel Bluming said. "If water is available, that's a leg up. But it probably doesn't cure every problem."

A potable water supply in the village could help existing commercial buildings in town, and it could bring other businesses into Jamaica. On Sept. 11, Dufresne Group presented to the Select Board a plan to conduct an initial study for $7,000. The civil engineer company says it can offer assistance in finding attractive funding options.

"That's probably what our claim to fame is — arranging funding from state and federal agencies, and directing grant and low-interest; in fact, negative interest in some cases — funds into the project," said Robert "Red" Dufresne, president of Dufresne. "That's really where the benefit of our service come."

Dufresne believes groundwater is available as a water source. "And you really want groundwater because it's low operational costs and you don't have to do anything," he told the board. "It's subject to contamination, that's the only thing about it. But generally, that's what communities of this size end up with."

A surface water source would require a larger treatment facility, he said.

Christina Haskins, project manager with the company, lives in Jamaica and has served on the Planning Commission. She said she knows about all the conversations over the last couple decades about water and wastewater in the village.

"I think every few years those discussions have come back around," she said, citing a 2000 town study mostly focused on wastewater. "Nothing's really been done since then."The topic has recently come up again thanks to revisions proposed for the town plan. The Planning Commission previously proposed an edit on a section about water, prompting the board to think about possibilities around systems for the village. One idea involved users creating a separate district to pay for a system.

Haskins said she thinks there are some assumptions about issues and costs.

"But we don't know," she told the board. "We haven't investigated it yet."

Her group was proposing "a small, limited study," which would involve surveys of existing water and septic systems, water-quality testing and identifying issues or restraints. "This would give you a lot of the facts you're looking for," Haskins told the board. "We would comment on the connection with economic development. That's been a big topic recently. And then in the end, you would have a report from us that outlines what the problem is. And that would give you a starting point to have these educated discussions on where to go from there."

Haskins said the majority of her group's projects have been related to water and wastewater. She has worked with several towns throughout the state. She pointed to U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs that could help with financing.

Haskins told the board her group's scope is flexible.

"So it can be increased and decreased as the board chooses," she said. "So don't feel that's set in stone. We can certainly modify it."

"Excellent," said Select Board Chairman Paul Fraser.

Bluming hopes to get a proposal from Beck Engineering. But he had not heard back from the group in time for the meeting.

In other business:

- Board member Lexa Clark said she hopes the town garage will be finished by October. Construction began in April.

VMS Construction has been "really helpful," Clark told the board.

"They've been really good," she said. "We're in good standing financially, too."

- A committee has been appointed to come up with recommendations for restoring Town Hall. Not many repairs are needed now, said Select Board member Judy Flower.

"That's why we need to really keep things going so things don't fall into deterioration," she said.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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