Hampton Sewer Payment Opposed

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 29, 2004

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON - Residents along the route of a planned $12 million sewer infrastructure upgrade at Hampton Beach will be forced to foot the bill to connect into the town's new lines, and at least one is unhappy about it.

Hampton Beach resident Ed MacDonald, who owns two properties that abuts the planned route of the sewer line, said at last week's selectmen meeting that he feels homeowners might be out thousands of dollars to hook into the new system - a cost that they will be forced to spend whether they want to or not.

Town Manager James Barrington confirmed that homeowners will have to bear the cost to connect to the new sewer but wouldn't speculate on a price tag.

The $12 million project, approved by voters in 2003, will involve replacing 70-year-old sewer pipes with new ones to be installed in roadways. The upgrade encompasses a majority of the main beach area, including Ashworth Avenue and all the side streets east of Brown Avenue up to the State Park, including the Island section.

Ashworth Avenue and the lettered streets will be reconstructed to include curbing, sidewalks and lighting.

MacDonald said he and other residents in the area are concerned about what he feels is the unfair cost for them to connect into the new sewer system once the project is completed.

Barrington said nothing is set in stone and plans for the project are not finalized.

As for the cost to the homeowner, Barrington said once the project is completed, the town will pay the cost to connect sewer lines from the road to the edge of a person's property. The cost from the property line to the house itself is borne by the homeowner.

Barrington said the cost to the homeowner depends where their sewer lines lie.

Some residents will pay an additional cost because the current sewer system snakes underneath homes and through back yards and the town will not foot the bill for homeowners to connect those lines to the new system, Barrington said.

"In many of these cases the current sewer mains at the beach are going under houses or through backyards," said Barrington. "In order to make the connection to the new sewer line in the street once its constructed would entail significant amount of work on private property."

The number of homeowners who will be forced to pay a private contractor to remove their sewer lines from their backyard to the street is unknown, Barrington said.

"The town does not know where all the lines are," Barrington said.

The town will have a better idea when the project begins, Barrington said.

Town Should Pay Cost

MacDonald said since the sewers are being relocated for the convenience of the town, then the town should foot the bill for residents to reconnect to the new sewer.

"It doesn't seem reasonable to me that we would have to incur that cost to pay for the sewer up to the property line and in front of the house," MacDonald said. "...If it's for the town's convenience to get it (sewer lines) out of there, then its the town's responsibility to connect us."

MacDonald said the town should offer homeowners a reduced rate to reconnect into the sewer system or accept full responsibility.

MacDonald Is Not Alone

Selectmen Rick Griffin and Virginia Bridle said they attended a meeting hosted by the Island Homeowners Association, which represent a segment of the Hampton Beach community, which expressed similar concerns.

The residents of the White Island area of Hampton Beach are concerned because their wallets will definitely be affected by the new sewer system.

Many of the existing sewers in the White Island area are located behind the cottages, and as a result they will be forced to fork out their own money to reconnect to the new sewer system in the street once its constructed.

"The residents feel since this is a replacement of what currently exists it is not their duty to pay to hook up to the new sewer," Griffin said.

Replacement A Necessity

Barrington said replacing the sewer lines at the Beach is not for convenience but out of necessity.

"We're not trying to make life hard for the residents at the beach," Barrington said. "We're trying to make the area better."

The sewer system lacks the necessary capacity to handle redevelopment projects activities proposed by the Hampton Beach Master Plan, Barrington said.

The 70-year-old shallow sewers in the beach area, constructed primarily of clay pipe, suffer from age.

The project will start in the fall, Barrington said.

Barrington said four contractors have pre-qualified to bid on the project. The bids were due yesterday and interviews will be conducted tomorrow, June 30 to select a contractor.

The $12 million project also includes the King's Highway sewer replacement and the Church Street to Boars Head sewer upgrade.

Barrington said selectmen plan to hold a joint meeting with the Hampton Beach Commission and Fay, Spofford & Thorndike, the engineering firm for the project, on July 12 to discuss the upcoming project and answer concerns from residents about the sewer upgrade.

The meeting will be held at the Winnacunnet High School at 7 p.m.

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