Caroga explores adding municipal sewer service

CAROGA — The town board has authorized Supervisor Beth Morris to sign a contract with an engineering firm to perform a municipal sewer study, but only if New York state pays the cost of hiring the firm.

Morris said the town board only began the process of looking into municipal sewer under the condition that state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Schenectady, would provide state funding for the study. Morris said Councilman John Glenn has spearheaded the idea.

“It’s going to be contingent on grant approval for the study, so not one dime of the cost comes from local taxpayers pockets,” Morris said. ”

Caroga, with help from the Fulton County Planning Department, solicited eight proposals through a Request for Proposals process from engineering firms bidding for the study. From the proposals the town board chose Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park at a cost of $11,000.

Councilman Jeremey Manning said the town board thought they would have approval for state funding by the time the RFP process was completed and they were surprised that it hasn’t happened yet. He said the board didn’t want to commit to hiring Environmental Design Partnership until the state funding has been secured.

“We’d like to have the out, so we passed a resolution that is contingent on state funding, that we would instruct the supervisor to sign the contract, if we get some promise of state funding,” he said.

Manning said if the town hires Environmental Design Partnership, it will study two main concepts for creating municipal sewer for Caroga: the cost of constructing a wastewater treatment facility that would be supported by one of three possible streams; or the cost and feasibility of building a connection to the Johnstown Gloversville Wastewater Treatment Facility and pumping the sewage there.

Fulton County Planning Director Jim Mraz said a municipal sewer system could help serve as a catalyst for growth in Caroga. Mraz said there are many parcels of land in the town of Caroga that are too small for residential development because they don’t have the size to accommodate septic systems. He said municipal sewer service could allow for those properties to be developed. Mraz said cost will be key factor.

“About 16 years ago [Caroga] had a preliminary engineering evaluation done and it proposed a fairly extensive public sewer system that would have encompassed the areas around Caroga Lake, Canada Lake and elsewhere and that was an expensive proposal that didn’t go forward. So, this time around there is an interest at looking at this again to see if there is an option where they could start with servicing a small area of the town and look over time to build it out to a broader area,” Mraz said. “The key right now for them is can they afford to do something of this nature, and that’s what this conceptual evaluation is going to attempt to figure out. If they can, the hope on the town’s part is that it would serve as a catalyst for some growth. One of the limiting factors in and around the lake right now is a lack of municipal sewer.”

Manning said one of his concerns would be where the wastewater is allowed to flow.

“I wouldn’t want any of the effluent, even if it’s treated, feeding into any streams that flow into any of our lakes,” he said.

Morris said she believes there are pros and cons to establishing municipal sewer in Caroga.

“It’s all going to come down to the cost that it will take the taxpayer to hook into this thing, and that’s what it’s all going to come down to. Until I know what that’s going to be,” she said. “In order for the town to move forward, businesswise, this is something the town is going to have to do eventually, but, again, it’s going to come down to how much it’s going to cost.”

Morris and Manning agreed that the idea will remain in limbo until the town determines if it can get state funding for the engineering study.

“Until we here from Sen. Tedisco’s office, it’s all just a waiting game,” Morris said.