Neighborhood meeting 5/30/18

A meeting was held to discuss the engineering report, to share concerns and questions.  About half of the residential units effected by Betterment were represented.  The following questions were generated reflecting the divergent opinions and concerns of the group:

1. We would like to know more about additional costs such as

  • possible interest rate on the balance due if not paid in full initially
  • is there a cost to connecting laterals to the sewer and to the drain? if so, what is the approximate range of cost of each?  Who manages this?  Can the lateral assistance program be applied to both of these for one resident?
  • are there any legal fees charged to the residents such as filing fees for a lien
2. The plan notes that downspouts will be cut if they discharge into the combined sewer.  What happens to those downspouts and the water that runs through them?  Is there a proposed resolution for this part of the plan and at whose expense?
3. Why are residents who already have recharge systems bearing the cost for those who don’t have them, including those who are not part of the Betterment?
4. Why are residents connected to the sewer but not on the alley paying for drainage and restoration?
5. What implications are there for the laterals if there is a change in grade of the sewer?
6. Since the drainage is designed to accommodate W Canton connections why are they not being charged?  Some of them signed the petition.
7. What protection do residents have from cost overruns above the estimate? (as structured the residents are at risk with no control over the management of the project)
8. Will backyards and parking areas have to be dug up to accommodate the new laterals?  If so, who is responsible for the work and the cost of the collateral damage?
9. Why isn’t 100% of the costs of construction, planning and management of the sewer pipe and drain for the BWSC owned section of the sewer being born by BWSC. (as stated they control 23% of the linear feet of the total proposed sewer and are assuming 19% of the construction cost and just 12% of the design and management costs.)
10. What happens if the sewer fails in some way before we resolve all these questions?
11.  How long is the expected construction period?
12.  When does BWSC anticipate starting this work if it is approved by the abutters?
13. Why was the report completed in February and distributed to the abutters at the end of May?
14. We would like the June 20 meeting to be informational without a vote, and/or be postponed to allow time for answering our concerns.  How do we accomplish this?
15. What happens if BWSC in the future assumes responsibility for other private sewers in the City without following the provisions of the current Betterment Policy?  What is our protection against that eventuality?
16. What provisions of the Betterment Policy are actually enshrined in state law as opposed to policy of BWSC?  Please provide specific references.
17. What provisions will be made for temporary waste disposal while the project is ongoing?
18.  Will there be any resident access (pedestrian or vehicular)  to the alley while the construction is in progress?
19. Is the proposed gravel surface compatible with the uses of the alley including heavy trash trucks and snow removal?  The hard packed earth in the alley now can tolerate heavy traffic but the grading of gravel will change with every vehicle that passes over it.  How does a gravel surface qualify as restoration?
20. What is the basis for the decision that rehabilitation of the sewer is not feasible without a thorough inspection?  Other sewers in the City of this age are maintained by BWSC.  Pole camera photos reveal accumulation of waste and debris but not the status of the structure of the sewer.
21. What is the consequence if walls, fences or parking paving turn out to be an obstruction to the construction?  Who bears the expense of repair or replacement?
22. Are street lights, trees and utility poles in the way of construction?  What provisions are being made for this?  If utility poles and street lights are in the way will they be replaced and at whose expense?  The wires currently hang dangerously low and are often an obstacle.
23.  Has there been any investigation of underground wires that power the street lights or other utilities?  Whose financial responsibility is it to address those wires or other subsurface utilities?
24. What is the procedure for the vote that will be taken in support or in opposition to the Betterment?
25. Will the alley surface above the decommissioned sewer out to W Canton be restored to match the rest of the alley?  What about the cross alley where there is no sewer?



Meeting with Christian Simonelli

Christian Simonelli, Executive Director of the Boston Groundwater Trust, reviewed the proposal for Betterment with a particular eye to the need to preserve the groundwater on Alley 521.  The proposed drainage is “massive” and provides for drainage from buildings that are not part of the project proposed under Betterment.   Proper grading of the alley surface would be critical in maintaining desirable groundwater levels.  Can this grading be maintained with a gravel surface?

Engineering Report Received

The report, dated February 2018, was received by most abutters between May 22 and May 28, 2018.  It outlines the costs and the parameters of the project.  It has raised many questions and concerns.

Sewer process moving forward

Sometime in the next two weeks all abutters connected to the sewer and possibly all alley abutters will receive a letter from Boston Water Sewer with the results and recommendations from the engineering study we petitioned for in June 2016.  We were told then that it would take two years to do the engineering work so they are sending it to us just under the wire.  The next step is a public hearing that they will schedule in mid to late June.  State law has been changed to give residents 30 years rather than 20 years to pay the assessment if the project goes forward.

At the meeting a  vote will be taken of those present to help determine if the project goes forward.  The ultimate decision is with the Commissioners but they are alleged to be guided by the abutters vote.

Those who own multi-family buildings (on paper or in fact) will have the commensurate number of votes and be assessed a multiple of the assessment.