By G. Michael Dobbs
CHICOPEE – The City Council approved two spending measures that will have an impact on the city’s water and sewer rates.
At its Feb. 18 meeting, the council authorized a $9 million bond to pay for a redundant water supply pipe. The council also approved bonding for a new phase of the federally mandated separation of sewer and rain water lines.
City Councilor James Tillotson said that that result of the two projects would be an increase in sewer and water fees for residents. He predicted those two bills might equal a residential property tax bill in the future.
Mayor Richard Kos explained to the council the city’s entire water supply comes from the Quabbin Reservoir through a 65-year-old, 36-inch pipe traveling through Ludlow. Ludlow has installed an emergency system for its water supply, but not Chicopee.
Kos said a break in the Chicopee water line would stop the flow of water to the city.
“By not having the redundancy we imperil our water supply,” he said.
The new pipe would be 20,000 feet in length and carry water along an alternative route from Burnett Road to Memorial.
According to the letter to the mayor from the Board of Water Commissioners, the city may be granted Environmental Justice grant money of 3 to 10 percent to help fund the project.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Neece said the current water line is the city’s “Achilles’s heel.” A failure of the existing pipe would result in 90 to 95 percent of the city being without water.
Tillotson noted the city had no choice to spend additional funding on sewer separation as it is part of consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The council also acted on the testimony given during the meeting’s speakout portion given by residents who live near the bar, Doc’s Place, on Granby Road.
The council was supposed to approve a zone change for property at the mobile home park that would have enabled the owners of the park to sell the land to the bar for additional parking. The zoning committee had given the request a favorable report.
The residents told the council that since the bar has featured karaoke there have been problems with noise, illegal parking and litter such as alcohol bottles left on lawns.
City Councilor Frank Laflamme proposed sending the request back to the Zoning Committee for another hearing and he asked that the owner of the bar ne present.
Tillotson said he had spoken to several residents who believed the zoning change was “a done deal” after the decision of the Planning Board and had not attended the Zoning Committee meeting.
Tillotson also said the residents should speak to the License Commission about their concerns.
The council voted to send the issue back for an additional hearing.