After almost seven years of heading up the Amenia Wastewater Committee, Janet Reagon resigned last week. She sent in her letter of resignation to Supervisor Victoria Perotti on January 22.
“The best chance Amenia has had in years to find a solution to the long-standing need for a sewage treatment system in the hamlet of Amenia has slipped away.”
Reagon’s letter explained what happened:
“A year ago, things looked promising: the NYS Environmental Finance Corporation had guaranteed a $3 million no-interest loan, we were working closely with the Dutchess County Water and Wastewater Authority, and there was a reasonable plan for treating wastewater in a manner similar to the method used in Hillsdale, NY.”
“In order to get the EFC loan, the Town had to show by May, 2014, that there was a plan in place to come up with the other $1.4 million without borrowing more money. Steps need to be taken in order to close the financing by August 5, 2015, which cannot happen without such assurance”.
All Amenia had to do was come up with $1.4 million and create a sewer district by getting the businesses and residents in the district to vote on for it.
Unfortunately the missing piece of the puzzle was the lack of political will. The people in the proposed district were not willing to vote for it. Many of residents of the most populated part of the hamlet, in the Broadway area between Rte. 22 and Rte. 44, did not feel they could afford the $800 a year to be in the district amd spoke about their opposition at Wastewater Committee meetings.
For years the plan had been for the town to hook up to the Silo Ridge development’s wastewater treatment center at an estimated cost of $2–3 million. The developers said they would help the town to make that happen. But the cost of installing the pipes and pumping them uphill to the plant was exorbitant. After the original plan fell apart, the developers did not submit a Memorandum of Understanding to the town, and the town did not require them to do so.
“In their zeal to accommodate the Silo Ridge development, the Town and the Planning Board essentially let Millbrook Ventures off the hook for any serious contribution to the sewer project. In the original Silo Ridge proposal, they had quantified the cost of adding the hamlet of Amenia to their sewage treatment facility as between $2.5 and $3 million. Even though the current total value of the project is estimated at almost half a billion dollars, they have been allowed to comply with the Affordable Housing requirement by [only] paying the Town $536,000 in four installments, the last of which is not due until full build-out. I do not believe that is enough,” said Reagon’s letter.
Reagon said that she thought the developer “should be compelled to make a serious contribution that could ensure that the hamlet prospers as much as they do.”
Reagon concluded: “I and other members of the Wastewater Committee have worked very hard over the years to find an affordable way to provide wastewater treatment for the citizens of the hamlet of Amenia. It is truly a shame that this last best chance has been lost.”
Supervisor Victoria Perotti commented:
“It is with regret that the Town of Amenia accepts the resignation of Janet Reagon as member and Chair of the Wastewater Committee. She spent many years volunteering her time and working diligently to establish a Sewer District with the hope of creating a Wastewater Treatment System for the Town of Amenia….the current Wastewater Committee needs to meet to choose a new Chair and set up meeting dates if it chooses to move forward. Anyone who is interested in serving on the Wastewater Committee can complete a volunteer application available outside the Town Clerk’s office and give that completed application to the Town Clerk.”
Councilmen Mike Delango and Vicki Doyle are the liaisons to the Wastewater Committee. The committee members are Darlene Riemer, Alison Hale, Brad Rebillard, Tony Robustelli, Marco D'Antonio, Norm Cayea, Martin Grossman, and Victoria Alexander.
Mike Delango told us he would like to revive the committee, which has not met in many months.
“I would like to make the committee active again and explore all our options, even the ones that we have looked at already. I believe that the town needs a sewer, and I feel that if we can get the committee working, it will happen. I would like to see some new faces on the committee because with new faces come new ideas. I believe we can make this work by changing how we look at the district (maybe changing it a little) and the costs per benefit unit.”