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DANBURY Danbury, Putnam County to discuss Rt. 6 sewer line

November 28, 2018

DANBURY — Putnam County and Danbury officials will take a closer look at extending the city’s sewer system across the state line over the next few months.

The overall idea has floated about over the past two years as the city and its New York neighbor agreed to work together more often, but leaders from both sides are now prepared pin down more of the details that could make the deal a reality.

Public Works Director Antonio Iadarola and Putnam County engineers have laid some of the groundwork, but now it’s time to advance the negotiations to the elected officials themselves, he told a City Council committee this week.

“Since those conversations, the mayor felt we should pull a committee together to further discuss this and really hash out the details of it,” Iadarola said. “Because if we decide to do this, there’s an extensive amount of work that has to happen in putting together agreements, putting together fee structures, connection fees — that would all have to be ironed out.”

The committee agreed to invite Putnam officials to a joint meeting in the next few months, yet to be scheduled, to hear their formal pitch for the project.

The plan would be to extend Danbury’s sewer system along Mill Plain Road into Brewster to provide service to the 3.5-mile commercial corridor along Route 6 where growth is limited by New York City watershed rules.

Danbury would then charge Putnam County for the service, as it does other surrounding municipalities hooked into the system, and Putnam would contribute to upgrades to the sewer lines under Mill Plain Road and the new regional wastewater treatment plant that voters just approved $102 million for earlier this month.

The agreement would help spur redevelopment in Putnam and defray potentially tens of millions of dollars in costs Danbury would have to pay otherwise, officials have said.

“That in itself helps the ratepayers, the users,” Odell said. “That, to me, is a home run for the city of Danbury right off the bat. That they can save their taxpayers who are in the sewer district money is a plus.”

“We’re running out of land, we can’t develop any big parcels here and yet the demand for services continues to increase, which costs money,” City Councilman Warren said. “So we’re looking at ways of partnering with surrounding communities. This is just one of those components we’re looking at long term that perhaps could help generate revenues or reduce costs, one or the other.”

Mayor Mark Boughton and Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell have said the agreement could boost both area’s economies with ripple effects across the region.

But the devil is in the details and some Danbury City Council members are skeptical.

Councilmen Duane Perkins and Fred Visconti worried the city might simply be subsidizing competition to its own businesses.

“If we make a major impact on that mall, we’re going to be in trouble,” Perkins said. “Conceptually, just to make this whole thing work, I just can’t reconcile that ... I don’t think our benefit is greater than their benefit.”

But council members Irving Fox and Colleen Stanley predict the redevelopment could lift the entire region, not just one side over the other.

“I think the population of this area is growing so rapidly that there’s a case to be made that there is enough business to add several (of any business) on the other side,” Fox said. “But it opens up hundreds, if not more, job opportunities for people who live across the street on our side.”

As usual, though, money remains the biggest outstanding question for both sides of the would-be agreement.

Putnam County completed an initial study of the project and already has received almost $2 million to help pay for construction, but the two sides have not detailed specifics about the fees and construction that either or both would have to bear.

“If we ever get to that point, it might be dead on arrival,” Iadarola said. “They might just say there’s no way we can sustain this type of an investment. But at this point we can’t do that until this committee meets and has some discussions about the potential costs of connecting.”

zach.murdock@hearstmediact.com

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