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Norfolk property owners accept new grinder pumps following initial argument

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NORFOLK - After some initial opposition and debate, a handful of Norfolk property owners have accepted the town’s plan to install grinder pumps as part of their upcoming sewer project.

The town board welcomed five residents who own four homes on lower West Main Street to a meeting last week to talk about the steps needed to add them to the municipal sewer system.

“Here’s where we’re at. As part of our ongoing sewer project, the (Department of Environmental Conservation) has mandated that we hook these four properties up to the sewer system. We’ve got a plan, (and) we’ve got a design concept. Obviously it can be revised to save a little bit of money, but our sewer ordinance says the home owner must bring it to the sewer up to the property line,” Town Supervisor Charles A. Pernice said.

“Where we’re at right now is, as part of the project, the town will install the grinder pumps and all of the piping through the road at no cost to you guys. But when we walk away, we’re going to turn it over to you. It’s yours.”

Following the installation of the pumps, the owners will be responsible for maintenance and all further costs.

After voicing her displeasure with the situation, Margaret LaDue, 72 West Main St., was told by Mr. Pernice there was an alternative.

“Here’s the flip side of that. If you don’t do it, you’re going to be dealing with the DEC. They’re probably going to come in and find you, and make you put it in completely,” he said.

“So what you’re saying is because we have been pushed to the bottom of the ladder and you have gotten grants to hook us up - now we’re being penalized now, where other people that are on a pumping station don’t have to pay?” Mrs. LaDue asked.

Mrs. LaDue added that she would sign over the property to the town for the installation and they should maintain it.

“What you don’t understand is we can’t own or work on something that’s not on town property,” Mr. Pernice responded.

“We just told you we’ll give you the property,” Mrs. LaDue said.

“You’re increasing our costs, our legal costs,” Mr. Pernice said.

“Well, you’re going to increase my costs against somebody that’s already getting the benefits. It’s not right,” she said.

Mr. Pernice told the residents the installation is a compromise and that their sewer rates can be negotiated.

“You’ve got to understand we don’t have to do anything. We could go ahead with the project and tell the DEC, ‘Go ahead and deal with them.’ We’re trying to compromise by paying to install them. They are going to be about $20,000 apiece,” Mr. Pernice explained.

Town engineer Aaron Jarvis notified those in attendance last week that the cost to run the pumps for a month was “very miniscule” but did not have the exact figures.

Timothy Oakes, 84 West Main St., told the town board that he was fine with the new pumps as long as they were installed correctly.

“I’m fine with maintaining whatever you guys install as long it’s installed correctly. I’m good with it,” Mr. Oakes said.

Mr. Jarvis said that the pump system maintenance will be minimal. “It’s just a round, plastic chamber that’s buried in the ground. The chamber that (the pump) will run into, that will fill up once or twice a day. So that pump will run for a couple of minutes, once or twice a day, and if that pump goes bad - the type that we have here, it’s a cartridge. So there’s an electrical plug in, a pipe in, a pipe out, you pull one out, put the other one in and hook it back together and turn the power back on,” he said.

Mr. Pernice told the citizens that the bottom line is, due to DEC regulations, the installation will be done no matter what.

“The bottom line is the DEC says (this) has to be done. Legally, (the town board) doesn’t have to do a thing. We thought this was a pretty fair compromise,” he said. “... Bottom line is it’s got to be done, whether we do it or you do it. If you do it, obviously we’re not going to help you. If the DEC gets involved, they’re probably going to slap a fine on you until you fix it. Basically people like me and (Councilwoman Jean Gang), who live in the (sewer) system, are going to pay to put your pumps in. There’s no other way to put it.”

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