With the opening of bids on Friday and a low bid of $19,650,132.90, Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur sees the possibility of having sewers up and operating for 937 Bayside property owners in 18 to 24 months.
Bayside – comprised of the Riverview, Highland Beach and Longmeadow neighborhoods – has been scheduled for sewers for decades, with the Warwick Sewer Authority having gone so far as designing and earmarking bonding for the project. With the discovery of Native American archeological features, including graves in the path of sewer lines, however, plans were shelved and funding went to other projects.
Ladouceur remains frustrated that it has taken so long to bring residents a service they need – many Bayside homes are on small lots and dependent on septic systems or cesspools that are failing – yet he is excited an end now appears to be in sight.
The WSA received four bids for the work, ranging from the lowest submitted by D’Ambra Construction that has done much of the city’s sewer construction to a high bid of $30 million. Specifications call for the use of directional drilling that will take pipes beneath archeological features without disturbing them. This will be a first for the use of directional drilling by the WSA.
Ladouceur made Bayside sewers a campaign promise when he first ran for City Council in 2012. It was a commitment that, following his election, resulted in the formation of the Warwick Sewer Review Commission. That group met extensively as it not only addressed how to bring sewers to Bayside but also procedures used to assess homeowners, financial terms of assessments and the extension of sewers to other neighborhoods – including Governor Francis Farms in Ward 1, where two of three projects had been completed, and O’Donnell Hill in Ward 8.
Ladouceur feels including the Narragansett Indians as a member of the review commission was key to reaching this point. He notes a lot of work remains to be done.
Although all property owners equally share in the cost of a sewer project, suggesting that Bayside assessments could be in the range of $25,000 and less, the true cost will not be known until the project is completed. The project is a pressure system that will require homeowners to have grinder pumps.
The prospect of low-interest bonding rates bodes well for homeowners looking for the authority to finance their assessment. Under the regulations formulated by the review commission, the authority can add no more than an additional 1.25 percent to the interest rate it is paying. This could mean an interest rate of less than 4 percent to homeowners on a payment plan that might be as long as 30 years, Ladouceur notes.
“I can’t wait another five minutes to get a shovel in the ground,” Ladouceur said.
Depending on the timing of a bid award and the lineup of bond approval and financing, construction could start as soon as this spring. Projects of this size are usually scheduled to be completed in 18 months.