By G. Michael Dobbsnews@thereminder.com
CHICOPEE – The work to upgrade the city’s sewer system will continue with the approval by the City Council
of nearly a half million dollars to begin preliminary work on the combined sewer overflows (CSO) in Chicopee center.
The council also approved $650,000 to repair the long unused River Mill sewage pumping station, which will be reimbursed by the state. Councilor James Tillotson said the pumping station is necessary for the continued development of the area around the new senior center. Tillotson said the senior center will be able to open on time, but the pumping station as it is now is not as reliable as it should be.
Councilor Shane Brooks said the CSO work in downtown is about 18 months away and he added the business community will be involved in discussions about how the work will be addressed. Mayor Richard Kos said the records of the sewers in the oldest part of the city are not complete, something confirmed by Thomas Hamel, the project manager for the elimination of the CSOs.
Tillotson expressed concern about the cost of the work and the impact it will have on water and sewer rates. Hamel said the Environmental Protection Agency, which mandated the upgrades as a part of the cleanup of the Connecticut River, has show willingness to work with communities on the timetable for the conversions.
The council approved $82,300 to upgrade the biological system of the wastewater treatment plant which is now more than 40 years old. The system removes organic waste for the water stream before the water into the Connecticut River.
In order to begin the legal work to address traffic problems at the Deady Bridge, the council also gave the green light to using $14,000 from the stabilization fund for appraisals. Kos told the council the city would receive 100 percent reimbursement from the Commonwealth. Actual construction on both entrances of the bridge wouldn’t start until the fall.
Councilor Robert Zygarowski hoped that residents will be patient with the amount of roadwork that will be going on in the city later this year. He compared the level of the activity as a “war zone.”
The appointment of Raisa Riggott of West Springfield was the city’s new human resource director and Michael O’Neill of Chicopee as the new director of golf were referred to the Human Resource Committee, with its recommendation coming back to the council at its next regular meeting.
Tillotson reported on the shopping cart ordinance and noted although Walmart representatives did not attend a recent Ordinance Committee meeting. He added he met with managers from the Days Inn and Quality Inn about members of homeless families housed there who have used carts and then left them there.
“I do believe we made some progress,” he said. “It’s an on going battle.”
Councilor Tim McLellan expressed his disappointment that Walmart didn’t attend the meeting as he said the discount giant is the “biggest offender” in the issue of carts that are off of the store’s property.