Lost Lake Sewer District Is Opportunity Without Risk
On Jan. 26 we will have a Special Town Meeting to review a number of Articles, including one that will begin creation of a Lost Lake Sewer District. It is important for residents to understand that this initiative is absolutely not an effort to advance, in any way, construction of sewer infrastructure for Lost Lake. In fact the commitment to such a project is now on hold while the effort is looked at afresh by a newly-appointed Lost Lake Sewer Committee.
The purpose of bringing the creation of a Lost Lake Sewer District to Town Meeting is to take advantage of a time sensitive opportunity to establish our eligibility for USDA grants in case we determine to build a sewer project at some point in the future. In order to qualify for such grants, Groton must have established a Lost Lake Sewer District by March 31, 2013. By approving creation of a District at Special Town Meeting, we can apply for USDA funding using data from the 2000 US Census and our Lost Lake Income Survey. After March 31, 2013 the USDA will adopt the 2010 US Census and Groton will no longer be eligible for USDA funding due to changes in our population size and median income. We have already filed the grant application and now need only to create the District to have the application marked as complete.
There are a couple of things worth noting:
While there is no guarantee that our application will be successful, grants from the USDA could provide up to $1,000,000 in cost reductions.
Neither the grant application, nor a vote to create a District, would obligate us to move forward with creation of an actual sewer.
The administrative tasks involved in creating an actual Lost Lake Sewer District will take more than the available time between Special Town Meeting and March 31, 2013. The USDA has informed us that if we show a substantial commitment to the creation of the District by approving its creation at Town Meeting, it will look favorably on a request to extend the March 31 deadline for District creation.
While the District would indeed be the required vehicle for administering fees and betterments associated with a sewer if it is eventually built, Town Meeting will have at least two opportunities to ratify and amend the District before such a milestone is achieved. The District could be expanded or reduced in size, or even dissolved by a vote of Town Meeting before it ever levied its first betterment or fee. Approval of the District as defined at the January 2013 Town Meeting does not oblige us to the District Map that would ultimately define the District if the sewer system was built.
In summary, this Article seeks to put the Town in a position to reduce the cost of a sewer if it is ever built. It creates no obligation of any kind. I ask you to vote to support this initiative and trust that we will use this, and our effort to reevaluate the Lost Lake Sewer project to provide you with a full set of options, comprehensive information, and every possibility for reduced costs.
Jack Petropoulos, Selectman, Town of Groton