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$12,500 sewer study fails to gain support in Salem

SALEM — Selectmen have little interest in moving forward with municipal sewer extension to Bridge and School streets, with several members citing the cost of a pumping station that would be needed to extend the service.

At Monday night’s board meeting, selectmen took no action to move forward with a $12,500 conceptual study for the extension of municipal sewer to Bridge and School streets.

“Over the last two years, we have seen little demand or support for the extension of sewer,” said Selectman Stephen Campbell.The likely need for a pumping station would be a huge expense that would require a bond vote and would not garner the support of a large segment of the voters, Campbell said.Robert Puff, the town’s engineering director, estimated a pumping station could cost around $1 million.Campbell added that $12,500 for the study is also real money.

“It seems like a waste of money to me,” Campbell said. “The board and the public have not shown huge support for that kind of expense.”

Everett McBride, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, disagreed that the study would be a waste of time.

“We should at least do the study and get feedback,” he said. McBride also said the pumping station would be needed to extend municipal sewer past Bridge and School streets into a more densely populated segment of North Salem.

Puff said the pumping station would be the linchpin for sewer expansion into North Salem.Selectman James Keller asked how much it would cost to survey the residents in the area to see if they would support the sewer expansion, with the idea the town could go ahead with the conceptual study later if there was support.Town Manager Keith Hickey said the cost would boil down to staff time and postage costs to send out the surveys.

Keller also asked whether there was an alternative to building a new pumping station.

“There are alternatives, but they are not what you would call cost effective in the big picture,” said Puff.

McBride admitted that it does not seem like the town will move forward with sewer expansion.

“I appreciate the effort,” he told Puff. “But it looks like we are going nowhere at this point.”

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