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Norfolk town board discussess addition to water project

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NORFOLK - The Norfolk Town Board is entertaining the possibility of looping the pipe that serves residents of Wheeler Drive to its ongoing water project.

During an update by Project Engineer Aaron B. Jarvis of Tisdel Associates at the board’s meeting this week, council members discussed adding Wheeler Drive in order to have continuous lines throughout the hamlet.

Work started in September on a long-discussed, $2.55 million project for the town to meet state regulations for water quality. Crews have been been replacing wells for the municiapal water system infiltrated with groundwater and the aging Raymondville water tank and will “loop” dead-end lines along Hepburn, Sober, Crabb and Hutchins streets. J.E. Sheehan Contracting Corp. is completing the “bulk of the work.”

Councilman Robert J. Harvey said the town could not make a final decision on looping the Wheeler Drive line because it does not now what the cost of that work might be. Supervisor Charlie Pernice expects the board to approve the addition of Wheeler Drive at its end of the year meeting to be held at 9 a.m. Dec. 28.

“We want to entertain the motion but first we’re going to look at pricing,” Mr. Harvey said.

He said it would require about 100 feet of pipe to loop the Wheeler Drive lines, but he could not provide a cost estimate. There are too many unknowns when digging into the ground to replace aged piping, he said.

One such unknown was brought to the board during its meeting Monday night. Residents and board members discussed a length of pipe on Sober Street that workers predicted would be six- to eight-inches wide, but turned out to be only two inches.

Mr. Harvey estimated the replacement of that two-inch lines will cost a between $10,000 and $15,000. However, that will not add to the project’s overall costs because such unforeseen issues are budgeted for in a $278,000 contingency line, Mr. Pernice said.

Norfolk resident John Margittay told the town board he believes those costs could have been avoided if the workers checked with the highway superintendent rather than go by older drawings of the town’s water lines.

Mr. Pernice believes the error is not the fault of current work crews but something that should have been addressed when the lines were initially placed there.

“If they’d put in a larger main earlier on, we wouldn’t have to buy a new one now,” Mr. Pernice said.

Mr. Harvey agreed with Mr. Pernice, asaying it’s difficult for workers to predict what they’ll find until they actually dig out the earth. He also said that if the project does not encounter any other issues, the work will fall about a quarter of a million dollars under budget.

The water improvements are entirely funded through the water user fees.

The town council approved a $40 per year increase for water and sewer rates in 2011, and an additional $80 increase per year in 2012 to pay for the projects. Residential property owners pay $256 in annual water fees and $292 for sewer, while most commercial property owners pay $236 for water and $272 for sewer.

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