Lunenburg Water District Plans New Home
LUNENBURG -- The Water District is looking to borrow $3.4 million to build a new office and garage closer to the center of town.
“We need a new facility,” said Water Board Chairman John Esposito. “We’ve outgrown this one.”
The current space, built in the mid-1950s, was meant for a smaller operation, he said. The concrete-block, two-vehicle office/garage now used by the department is on a dead-end street near Lake Whalom, which can make it hard to find.
Esposito said the district plans to build a new garage a few miles away at 496 Massachusetts Ave.
That property is about seven acres and the former site of a home owned by the Szocik family, according to town property records. The water district bought the land in 2014.
To get started on the project, the Water Board will vote on three articles at a special meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5. It will be held at the district’s office at 50 Lesure Ave.
The first article asks whether to appropriate $3.4 million to build the garage and to determine the status of proposed borrowing in light of $1.4 million authorized in 2016.
Another article asks whether to take action to authorize borrowing.
The last article proposes using $212,500 from a water service account to fund construction costs that aren’t eligible for borrowing.
The district previously looked at upgrading the building, but the cost was too high and there wasn’t much room to expand, said Fran McNamara, the Water District’s superintendent. Tearing down the building would have been more affordable.
When looking at other land the Water District owned, the Mass. Avenue property emerged as an option, McNamara said.
The new building would be a multi-bay garage that can fit a total of eight vehicles, he said. Employees typically leave their work vehicles at the office rather than take them home.
Having a larger garage would also allow the district to keep its dump truck, tractors and other trucks inside. The new garage would have basement storage space, said McNamara.
The engineer’s estimate for the project came back higher than the district expected, he said, but he declined to provide the amount.
Most of the project will be funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, he said, adding that the $3.4 million amount is the maximum the district can borrow.
Revenue generated for the Water District, which include water bills and payments from cellular repeaters placed on water tanks, will help pay the loan, McNamara said.
He said the district does not plan to raise water rates in response to the project.
The Water District operates as a distinct municipal entity in town. It maintains about 50 miles of pipes, multiple wells, and storage tanks that provide water to about 70 percent of Lunenburg, which McNamara said is about 6,500 customers.
Esposito said the project has been in the works for years and has already gone through the local permitting process and the district is working on paperwork through the state to get a loan.
After the finances are in order, Esposito said the district can put the project out to bid.
The goal is to start construction in the spring and have the building ready to move into by the end of next year, he said.
“It’s 99 percent ready to get going,” Esposito said. “The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be and we want to get it done.”
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