WPCA Regular Meeting Minutes
9 February 2016
Present: Regular Members- Chairman Richard Prendergast, Vice Chair Donna Bednar, Treasurer Doug Wilkinson, Andrea Lombard, Dimitri Tolchinski, Robert McCarthy, Sal Cancelliere;
Alternates-Steve Cinami, Joe Carpentino
Approximately 15 members of the public were also in attendance, including Town Sanitarian John Sieviec. Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal also attended part of the meeting.
Absent: Frank Chan, Ernest Lorda
Call to Order
Chairman Richard Prendergast called the meeting to order at 7:30pm.
Approval of the Minutes – January 12, 2016
Motion made by Doug Wilkinson, seconded by Sal Cancelliere to approve the minutes of 12 January. Motion passed.
Chairman Prendergast named alternates Joe Carpentino and Steve Cinami to serve as voting members at this meeting in the absence of regular members Ernest Lorda and Frank Chan.
Budget Update and Expenses
Legal and Engineering Invoices Last Fiscal Year Update
Treasurer Doug Wilkinson reported that approximately 25% of the approved operating budget has been expended with the fiscal year at halfway point. He will meet with the Finance Director regarding the format of the budget accounts. The impact of $5,000 to complete additional work on the Wastewater Study on the WPCA budget is not yet known.
Appointment of Sal Cancelliere to the WPCA
Chairman Prendergast explained the process of appointing members to the WPCA. Recommendations are made to the First Selectwoman. He recommended that alternate Sal Cancelliere be appointed to fill the vacancy for a regular member on the WPCA because he had been the first to request an appointment. He noted that all the alternates have similar skills and commitments.
Mailing to Hawk’s Nest area residents asking for more data
Per the suggestion made at the January meeting, the Health Dept. mailed 486 letters to Hawks Nest and Sound View residents, requesting that any additional data on their properties be submitted. The cost of the mailing was approximately $250.
Vice-Chair Donna Bednar said that following an informational mailing done by the WPCA, she was in the Old Lyme Post Office and saw many discarded mailing pieces. She questioned the effectiveness of mailings.
Discussions with Attorney, Woodard & Curran, and Town Engineer Dave Prickett
Chairman Prendergast asked Jay Sheehan, Dave Prickett and Andrew Lord not to attend tonight’s meeting so that WPCA members could discuss how they could most effectively make use of their expertise in the future. He suggested it might be more appropriate to put requests for professional opinions in writing.
Members concurred that having written responses was a good idea. Some suggested that the meeting agenda will dictate if it is necessary for engineer(s) or the attorney to attend a meeting. Joe Carpentino suggested scheduling quarterly meetings with the consultants.
Members discussed the value of professional collaboration and debated the role(s) of the consultants.
Steve Cinami suggested the WPCA should be telling the engineers the direction they want to take, not
taking direction from the engineers. He said the Board of Education does not have consultants at their meetings unless it is for a specific agenda item. Sal Cancelliere agreed that Woodard & Curran seemed to be driving the decision making. Andrea Lombard said she welcomes their expert collaboration as technical decisions are being made. Donna Bednar believes they provide a valuable synopsis of possibilities to inform the WPCA’s decision-making.
Asked if the discussion was budget driven, Chair Prendergast said it was not. Woodard & Curran as the project engineer does not charge for meeting attendance. Dave Prickett is the WPCA’s engineering consultant and charges a low flat rate. The highest cost is for legal consultation from Attorney Andrew Lord, but the chairman pointed out that Lord’s experience as a WPCA chair provides more than just legal advice.
The discussion will continue at the next meeting.
Feedback on Board of Selectman discussion regarding Community Waste Water Plan and Environmental Impact Evaluation amendment
Chairman Prendergast met with First Selectwoman Reemsnyder and Health Director Dr. Sikand.
He reminded all that the contract with Woodard & Curran is with the Town and the DEEP Administrative Order is to the Town. He would like to re-start the WPCA’s relationship with the Board of Selectmen and acknowledged the need for the Selectmen and WPCA to work together.
Chairman Prendergast summarized letters and emails received, welcoming comments and questions from members.
Correspondence in opposition to sewers in Hawks Nest Beach was received from Karen Cone, 38 West End Dr., Dwayne and Elegance Buckingham, 36 West End Dr., an attorney representing 30 members of the Hawks Nest Investment Corps, Rocco Todaro, Sandy Garvin, Steven Ross, Sandalwood Dr.
Correspondence in support of sewers in Sound View was received from Robert Breen, Director of the Sound View Beach Association.
He also noted an editorial published in The Day in support of sewers and an op-ed piece in opposition to sewers by Mervin Roberts in LymeLine.
Some correspondents stated that approval of their septic systems by the Town showed that sewers are not needed. Sanitarian John Sieviec clarified that approval of a system does not mean that a system is code compliant. The Sanitarian also said he had received information from approximately 40 property owners. All the information is being compiled and will be available electronically.
Robert Breen asked that the WPCA work with Sound View to facilitate upgrades the CT Water Company
is required to make. Chair Prendergast agreed that should be on the WPCA’s to do list.
Sal Cancelliere explained the composition of Hawks Nest, which is represented by three separate associations: The Hawks Nest Beach Association, Hawks Nest Investment Corps, and the Garvin Family business. He believes all three share the opinion that sewers are not needed in Hawks Nest. The roads in Hawks Nest are town owned roads.
An FOI request from Steven Ross is being handled by the Town. He also said not enough time had been allotted for receipt of information from property owners. Members did not respond to his request for more time.
Discussion of relationship with Board of Selectman and Board of Finance
Chairman Prendergast stated the WPCA needs agreement from the Boards of Selectmen and Finance in order to move forward. Steve Cinami agreed that it is necessary to repair the strained relationship between the WPCA and those boards. State statutes about the authority of WPCAs do not currently apply to this WPCA, which is appointed by the Board of Selectmen and reports to them.
Andrea Lombard suggested representatives of those boards attend WPCA meetings. She believes the WPCA’s role is advisory, not political – their job is to evaluate scientific data and recommend the best plan.
Discussion of options and actions needed
Chairman Prendergast fears the WPCA has lost track of all its option and suggested taking a step back to reevaluate.
He listed the options as:
- Moving forward as planned
- Phasing in Hawks Nest after additional testing
- Doing nothing
He does not believe the last is a valid option because of the letter presented by the Director of Health and the DEEP Administrative Order to the Town. Dimitri Tolchinski agreed that the WPCA cannot ignore their authority.
He suggested the WPCA evaluate each option so that their decision making process will be clear.
Donna Bednar said the financial impact of each option also needs to be considered.
Rob McCarthy would like to add further evaluation of sewer alternatives as an option to be considered. He said they represent the taxpayers so they have to consider all aspects.
Doug Wilkinson said the DEEP has ordered the Town to complete the Study, but has not told the Town what it has to do.
Chairman Prendergast has received correspondence from Carlos Esquerra of the DEEP indicating the DEEP will consider allowing the Town to separate Hawks Nest from the original study and continue to study that area. Health Director Dr. Sikand also agreed to support further study of Hawks Nest Beach.
Dimitri Tolchinski said if the membership of all three Hawks Nest Beach organizations meets and agrees, he will make a motion to remove Hawks Nest from the study.
Members recalled their December vote (6-2) to direct Woodard and Curran to delay implementation of sewers in Hawks Nest. In January, Jay Sheehan of Woodard & Curran told them the data did not support a phasing in at Hawks Nest.
Steve Cinami said once the EIE is submitted, Public Comment will not change the plan. If Hawks Nest is included in the EIE, the DEEP will expect them to be included in implementation.
Andrea Lombard noted in the interests of due diligence, the WPCA requested additional data from property owners in the affected areas. Joe Carpentino said that they had been flooded with opinions and no real data. Data is needed to back up claims. He believes the Health Department can compare current data on the same or similar properties to ascertain actual conditions.
Chairman Prendergast cited the recent drinking water problem in Michigan, saying the WPCA needs to remove the uncertainty from their deliberations.
Steve Cinami spoke about the anticipated cost of infrastructure upgrades in East Lyme, Waterford and New London. Others members pointed out that those costs are already included in the Study.
Members agreed that Sanitarian John Sieviec should present the WPCA with all the information once it has been compiled to enable the WPCA to make decisions based on the actual data.
Chairman Prendergast asked if members will agree to develop an evaluation of the options, including consideration of sewer alternatives, and the consensus was yes.
Pump- out Extensions
Chairman Prendergast reviewed requests for pump- out extensions received from:
301 Hartford Avenue, 67 Whippoorwill, 21 Flagler, and 225 Mile Creek. Three requests were based on limited property use. The fourth asked for a delay until the spring.
Members noted they have not approved requests in the past, not wanting to set a precedent. Steve Cinami asked if there are written guidelines, adding that verification of situations presented in the requests is not possible. Sanitarian Sieviec indicated guidelines are available.
A motion to deny the requests and require pump-out compliance by April 15 was made by Sal Cancelliere and seconded by Doug Wilkinson. Motion passed.
Public Comment – Limited time per speaker
Chairman Prendergast opened their meeting to the public, asking speakers to stand and state their name and address.
Sandy Garvin, Hawks Nest Beach, said she has been trying to get clarity on what constitutes pollution. She said a full analysis of Hawks Best has not been done. She encouraged the WPCA to explore all options and engage the services of professionals. She suggested Dave Potts, an environmental scientist. She called the Health Director’s letter alarmist and said she contacted the State Health Dept. to investigate his claims.
Sanitarian John Sieviec said 486 letters had been mailed to Hawks Nest and Sound View property owners. A handful were returned and some of those were re-addressed.
There are 296 Hawks Nest property owners; 41 responses were received.
There are 190 Sound View property owners; 16 responses were received.
Laura Parent, Center Beach Avenue, requested confirmation that all correspondence sent to the Health Department will be considered in the final report. Sanitarian Sieviec confirmed.
She commented that 50% of Hawks Nest residents are “snow birds,” and questioned if letters had reached all property owners.
Leandro DaSilva, Hemlock Circle, said he is a new resident with concerns about the safety of drinking water, especially for young children. If there is evidence of pollution, he asked the WPCA to do the right thing.
Rob Breen, Sound View Beach, said that SVBA is a 501c3, not a chartered beach association. He is advocating for the interests of property owners in Sound View Beach on three matters:
- Due to the proximity of Sound View to chartered beaches about to install sewers, a coordinated implementation will mitigate the cost impact to Sound View
- Sewer installation will present an opportunity for the CT Water Company to complete a water main upgrade at minimal expense
- He recounted an episode of septic contamination of the water system which occurred in 1994 which required him to deliver boiling water requirement notices to 500 property owners. He cited the network of private wells and septic systems in Sound View which elevate the risk for future contamination, and stated that we are on the threshold of installing an infrastructure will eliminate that risk.
Nancy Birge, Hemlock Circle, said she wants clean, healthy, safe drinking water.
Motion was made by Doug Wilkinson to adjourn at 9:35pm.