CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The Town Board last week approved taking the initial steps toward absorbing the last private sewer system in the community.

After getting word that the Crescent Wastewater Treatment System was to be legally abandoned to the town, the Town Board at its May 11 meeting agreed to hire local engineering firm MJ Engineering to prepare the necessary documents to start the transfer of the system to the town. The private sewer system has approximately 2,000 customers in the southern part of town.

Private sewer systems, known as transportation systems, were once a common part of suburban residential development where public sewer systems were few or nonexistent. The law states the owner must operate and maintain the system for a minimum of five years.

New York state law requires the nearest municipality to absorb them if they are abandoned by their owners.

In discussing the acquisition Supervisor Philip Barrett said this is the last large private sewer system still operating in town. He noted that control of three other small systems was taken on by the town in the early 2000s. The much larger CK Sanitary System was added in December 2004.

“We had Woodland Hills, Dutch Meadows and Olde Nott Farm that were abandoned to the town and then a few years later we had CK Sanitary, the old Van Patten system, and that was the largest,” he said. 

While the smaller systems came with mainly residential customers, the acquisition of CK Sanitary came with 5,000 residential and commercial customers. Its size, coupled with the three others, moved the town to create its own sewer department.

“Crescent Waste has contacted the town and formally stated that they would like to abandon that system to the town by the end of June,” Barrett said.

The action taken last Monday by the Town Board was part of the preparation needed for taking control of the system. Once the map, plan, and report are completed the town will start the process of establishing a special district which will include a public hearing.

After the public hearing is held and if the special district receives Town Board approval, the town will take over operations and maintenance of the system.

Barrett said his experience with the other sewer system public hearings has shown that residents with homes within them are very supportive of the town assuming ownership. He added that since the town now has its own sewer department it is fully prepared to accept the system.

“Within the last 20 years what we’ve accomplished as far assuming the other private sewer systems and establishing the sewer department, we have a very good department with experienced employees at this point and we’re more than ready to accept this system and ensure that it is managed properly,” he said.

Barrett added that though he doesn’t expect there will be any increase in rates, he believes some capital projects will be needed in the near future which will incur costs to the system. However, he expects customer service will be improved as will the viability of the system.

“Normally we’d have a meeting with the residents and go through all the information and answer questions but that will be a little more difficult here,” Barrett said. “We’ll post the information get it out there publically so people will have it and we’ll answer any questions they may have.”

In other action at the meeting, the Town Board announced that site work on the Sitterly Road improvement project would start Monday, May 18. The project is a joint effort between the towns of Clifton Park and Halfmoon.

When completed the project with its new turning lanes and synchronized traffic signals at Crossings Boulevard and Woodin Road will help move east-west traffic for the entire southern Saratoga community.

The total cost of the project is $2.183 million.  The improvements utilize state Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) funding. The project is eligible for reimbursement from federal and state government.

Eighty percent of the cost will be covered by federal aid and the remaining 20 percent will come from a New York state program resulting in no cost to either town.

Also resulting from the May 11 Town Board meeting, the board awarded a nearly $600,000 contract to Bette and Cring LLC to build a pedestrian bridge near Clute’s Dry Dock in the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve. The bridge will give people an entrance/exit at mid-point of the six-mile-long Towpath Connector Trail.

The trail, in many places, follows the original Erie Canal towpath between Clifton Park and the Twin Bridges area in Halfmoon. At present, the only access points to the trail are at either end.

A small parking area to be built off Riverview Road is also part of the project.

Barrett said the town initially received a grant to cover the work but after the bids went out the town realized it had a funding gap. After applying for another grant through the state Department of Transportation the town was awarded a second grant to allow the work to proceed.

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