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Money flows for waste water: Treatment system in Center is on track

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, it was reported that the Center Wastewater Project will get $250,000 from the Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Project.

The County money will help pay the Town for the $3.1 million project to remove wastewater from municipal buildings in the Center and pipe it to a treatment system on Manwaring Road.

At the meeting, Town Engineer Joe Finora received notice of the grant from County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac).

The Town’s Water Quality Improvement Project Advisory Board (WQI) has also unanimously recommended that the Town Board approve use of some of its money to help fund the project.

That money comes from 20% of the 2% real estate transfer tax paid by those buying property on the Island. The amount of money from the WQI will depend on what’s needed after all grant applications are processed, so it can be determined what’s needed to avoid having to bond the project.

Word about the county grant came late in the meeting at which Pio Lombardo of Lombardo Associates, the Town’s outside consulting firm, had outlined an updated engineering report on the project to lower the high nitrate concentration in Center water.

Besides treating nitrates, the system will be able to treat contaminants, including PFOS, which are man-made chemicals used in a variety of industrial applications. The proposed system can also be adapted to treat other contaminants that may not be recognized now, but can become problems in the future.

The Town Board has to determine the placement of lines to carry the liquid wastes from the library. A library expansion project is planned on land behind the building.

But Councilwoman Meg Larsen suggested the lines could be in front of the building. Town Board members will consult with the Library Board of Trustees to resolve that issue.

Annual operating costs for the system are projected to be $74,625 in the first two years, and then drop to $60,345 by the third year, according to Mr. Lombardo.

When discussions first started about an area system, the buildings to be serviced included the school, Community Center, Town Hall and its complex of buildings that include the assessors’ office, the Building Department and the adjacent house — currently residential housing that was acquired to eventually expand to office space — police headquarters, Justice Hall, the firehouse and library.

School officials decided to drop out of the group project and hired experts to tackle a project independently. The administration and Board of Education believed they could move more quickly and at less cost.

Ultimately, school officials rejoined the larger project, realizing that a separate project would cost about one third of the overall cost of the larger system and would treat only nitrates. There was controversy over where to place the treatment system for liquid wastes.

A number of Islanders thought the system belonged in the Center. Lombardo Associates determined there were only a couple of Center sites that could accommodate the system.

The engineering study finally focused on a site at 16 Manwaring Road, across the street from Sylvester Manor’s Farm Stand.

It initially proved unpopular with neighbors worried about issues such as noise, odors and impact on their well water. But the engineering study provided information to the contrary, and the neighbors, for the most part, accepted the study.