The Bourne Recreation Authority plans to seek state funding to offset the cost of replacing the septic system at Bourne Scenic Park.
The authority is approaching the state for funds to mitigate an estimated $7.3 million cost.
Recreation authority general manager Barry H. Johnson appeared before the board of selectmen Tuesday night, August 6. Mr. Johnson requested a letter of support from board members to submit with the authority’s application to the state’s MassWorks infrastructure program.
As drafted, the letter notes that under the proposed project “the existing sewage disposal system be upgraded to a wastewater treatment process.”
Doing so will bring the park into compliance with all federal and state laws governing campgrounds.
The new system would treat up to 48,000 gallons of wastewater daily, Mr. Johnson said. Phase One, he said, would involve construction of a treatment plant. That would be followed by installation of “a collection system throughout the entire park, which is approximately two miles long with about 430 plus or minus sites.”
“It’s an ambitious but it’s a very, very important project,” he said.
Mr. Johnson said the park’s current septic system dates back to the 1950s. He said the entire system has to be pumped out every year, prior to the start of the camping season, at a cost of $25,000 to the recreation authority.
He added that there was a sense of urgency to his request to the board. The deadline to apply for the MassWorks grant, he said, is today, Friday, August 9. He asked that the board sign the letter Tuesday, so he could submit the authority’s application to MassWork’s by 8 AM Wednesday, August 7.
The proposed site of the treatment facility will be “outside the flood zone and away from the Cape Cod Canal.” The finished facility will enhance the town’s Local Comprehensive Plan, as well as the Cape’s 208 water quality management plan.
The MassWorks Infrastructure Program provides capital funds to municipalities and other eligible public entities for public infrastructure projects that support and accelerate housing production, spur private development, and create jobs throughout the commonwealth.
Selectman James L. Potter said he is in favor of the project, but questioned why the recreation authority was not partnering with the town on the wastewater treatment plant going in off the Route 6 and 28 Bypass Road in Buzzards Bay.
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Mr. Potter also suggested the state might be less likely to approve the recreation authority’s application, given the $1.5 million grant MassWorks gave the town two years ago to offset the cost of that wastewater treatment facility.
Mr. Johnson admitted that such a denial is a distinct possibility, but said that the current project is already well underway.
“Right now, we’re doing this on our own, and it very well could happen that way,” he said of a possible denial by the state.
He further noted that any collaboration between the town and the recreation authority, which is independent of the town, would have to pass muster with the town’s board of sewer commissioners (whose membership is identical to the board of selectmen).
Wastewater Facility Design and Building Committee chairwoman Mary Jane Mastrangelo said there have been discussions about the scenic park connecting to the Buzzards Bay treatment plant. However, there is a lot of sewer infrastructure that is needed within the park, Ms. Mastrangelo said.
“Part of the cost might be able to be reduced by connecting to the wastewater treatment plant, but there are a lot of sewer lines that are going to have to be done and that’s a major part of the cost also,” she said.
Mr. Potter’s other concern was that the town and the recreation authority might be missing “the bigger picture.” He suggested that the scenic park project could be part of a widely discussed regional plan for wastewater treatment on the Upper Cape.
Proposals have been floated for expansion of the wastewater treatment facility in Wareham. Bourne, Plymouth, Marion, Wareham, Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Buzzards Bay Coalition on a partnership to expand Wareham’s existing wastewater treatment plant.
An agreement with the Town of Wareham allows the Town of Bourne to send 200,000 gallons of wastewater to that facility.
The expanded plant would increase the plant’s capacity as well as the amount Bourne can send. Mr. Potter suggested that could potentially include Bourne Scenic Park’s wastewater discharge.
Bourne Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino said the regional solution is too far into the future to make sense.
“That’s still probably eight to 10 years out by the time everything’s constructed,” he said.
Mr. Guerino said the recreation authority needs something done now to be in compliance with federal and state regulations. He added that the funding, if approved by the state, would allow the recreation authority to begin installing piping that will be needed for the park’s infrastructure.
He added that discussions can be held “down the road” with the sewer commission on whether it makes sense for the recreation authority to tie in with the town’s treatment facility.
Board chairman Judith M. Froman said that, ideally, there would be a master plan for wastewater treatment among the neighboring towns. Without that master plan, discussions can get underway about the bigger picture Mr. Potter mentioned, she said. Meantime, she said she definitely supported signing the letter of support for the recreation authority.
The other board members followed her lead and voted unanimously to sign the letter of support that will accompany the authority’s application to MassWorks.
Mr. Johnson said the state typically announces who has been selected as grant recipients six to eight weeks after the submission deadline.