The second informational meeting on the proposed new Beatty Hills sewer system packed the meeting room in the municipal building on Thursday night.
Approximately 40 residents showed for the meeting out of the 92 residents of the Beatty Hills neighborhood who will be affected by the new sewer system project, which proposes to build an approximate $1.1 million low-pressure sewer system for residents to hook up to.
, officials changed their mind and said on Thursday night that it will now be a voluntary connection but with a caveat.
"I spoke to the commissioners just before this and we’re going to make this a voluntary connection as opposed to what we said before," said Joseph Mastronardo of Pennoni Associates and both Marple and Springfield townships' engineer.
Mastronardo continued to explain, "But if you sell your property, and if you have a non-compliant system with DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), we’re going to require for you to connect. This will be a completely volunatary connection, but if your system fails then you would be required to connect."
was able to secure a $267,369 grant that would be used towards this low-pressure sewer project for Beatty Hills, in which Marple would match that grant with construction and labor fees by using Marple's Public Works Department.
"Marple Public Works have installed several of these systems before," addressed Marple Township Manager Anthony Hamaday to the public. "We’re not going to try to cut that deep–to avoid tree roots–and you tell us where you want it [the sewer line in]."
In Springfield, 38 homes will be affected by the project in which 29 currently operate cesspools and/or old septic systems, while five homes are in need of replacing conventional or alternative septic systems, three currently operate grinder pumps and one home has a holding tank in place.
In Marple, 54 homes will be affected by the project in which 42 homes currently operate cesspools and/or old septic systems, while 12 homes are in need of replacing conventional or alternative septic systems.
"If there’s an opportunity to put this neighborhood on public sewer it would be advantageous to everyone. We want long-term means. Septic systems are short-terms situations," said Mastronardo.
The estimated cost to the residents, who live in the 7th wards of both townships, will be approximately $6,500-$9,500 excluding the excavation of the old system and the annual water usage, well and sewer rates. If the townships don't act soon, they could possibly lose the grant which would mean the estimated cost per Beatty Hills resident would be $10,900 plus the grinder pump.
"In the traditional design, public bid and build, the worst-case you could look at it costing you out of pocket $20,000 for the septic system," said Mastronardo.
"But we're going to use the grant to pay for the materials, we're going to eliminate the cost of labor by doing it in-house, the design and construction comes way down to about $100,000 [in comparison to $1 million in the traditional design]," explained Mastronardo. "So the cost to the homeowner ends up being your tap-in fee which becomes $1,500 maximum plus the cost of the grinder pump which would be deferred to whenever you want to connect."
Marple's 7th Ward Commissioner Dan Leefson also clarified how the sewer line would be installed.
"There’s no line going in the street [Beatty Road]. We’re not tearing the streets up," explained Leefson. "The line is going on the edge of your property, down about below the frost line. We're not going to tear your property up and it will go to a very small trench."
From there, Leefson said the fluid will go through check valves [to avoid any back flow], goes across the homeowner's property, out the front of the property into the 4-inch main, goes uphill until it gets to Beatty Road and will hook up to a regular gravity drain system which will then take it to the treatment plant.
One resident raised the question of what would happen if the electricity went out, which is very possible since the neighborhood is prone to power outages.
Springfield's 7th Ward Commissioner Daniel Lanciano said he spoke to PECO about the power outage issue and said that he had invited them to the meeting but declined.
"I contacted PECO to attend tonight and they chose not to attend because they don’t want to choose to be associated with this project," explained Lanciano.
After the meeting, residents were encouraged to write down their names and to sign up to address the electric problems in the neighborhood with PECO.
Leefson suggested residents to consider looking into a second power source such as a back-up generator but assured, "We're going to attack PECO as much as possible about the power supply."
Though a voluntary option to hook in to the system, officials urged residents to seriously consider the opportunity to hook in now.
"If your system is going to work forever that's great, but if it goes bad you now have an option. It’s going to be cheaper to hook-in now than later," said Leefson.
A survey will be sent out to Beatty Hills residents in a couple of weeks, said officials, in regards to whether or not they will be hooking into the system or not to help project a number of grinder pumps needed to go out to bid.
The installation of the sewer system is expected to begin sometime in the spring and will have it ready for residents who would like to tap in to the public sewer system.