The Town of Inlet officially opened its new Wastewater Treatment Plant with a ceremonial ribbon cutting held Friday, September 6, with many well-wishers, including a representative of Governor Cuomo, in attendance.
Supervisor John Frey led the proceedings with introductory comments and thanks to the many who contributed to the plant’s actualization.
The quality of the facility, the planning and fortitude involved in bringing them about was acknowledged by several guest speakers, but it was no overnight success, according to Frey.
“Thirteen years ago we started by asking ourselves, ‘Do we need this?’,” he said.
Then-Supervisor J.R. Risley had formed a Clean Waters committeee with then-Councilman John Frey appointed chair.
They worked for about six years designing a sewer district, only to see it go down to defeat in a public vote.
Frey said they had been overly ambitious with a planned district that many felt was too sprawling.
But when they went back to the drawing board, they discovered that the needed grant money had dried up.
The committeee was forced to look at smaller clustered-septic systems as a solution to Inlet’s waste management needs.
“We were still with Bernier and Carr, our original engineers, when all of a sudden the stimulus packages came out on the federal level,” Frey said.
The timing was perfect for the Inlet committee, which quickly modified its earlier sewer design.
“We were able to turn around with a shovel-ready project in a very short period of time,” Frey said.
Still, Inlet failed to land the needed stimulus funds.
“We weren’t successful, but we made enough noise and showed we could get up to speed quickly with the plan,” Frey said. “So when they started talking about reapportioning some of the monies that hadn’t been spent elsewhere, Rural Development came to us with a package.”
Two years ago, with assistance money in hand, the sewer infrastructure contract went out to bid.
But to the disappointment of all involved, the bids came in much higher than expected. The town needed more money, which was not forthcoming, Frey said.
“At that point Environmental Facilities Corporation put together their package of loan forgiveness,” Frey said. “That was a year and a half ago, and it allowed the project to continue forward.”
Construction went quick, according to Frey.
“It was a year and a month from the first hole going in the ground, to the plant being up and running,” he said.
Frey said that teamwork was ultimately the key to the project’s success.
“The community was behind it with all but one person signing the petition. And there wasn’t a single person working for the town who didn’t buy into it and, at one point or another, put time into it,” he said. “Everyone did a great job.”
Frey said special thanks goes to Nick Rose and CAP-21, which wrote the grant applications.
“The fact that we have them in our backyard to help with these things is unbelievable,” he said.