GROTON -- Possible conclusions to a recent poll of residents within the Lost Lake neighborhood met with some resistance last Monday night as members of the Lost Lake Sewer Advisory Committee met to discuss the results of the survey.
"You should have it in writing," Pine Trail resident Andrew Proulx told committee members at the group's meeting of Aug. 13.
Proulx attended the meeting to listen in as committee members reviewed the results of those survey forms so far turned in by the 325 residents they had been mailed out to.
The survey was sent to all those property owners who would be affected should a new sewer line be installed in the Lost Lake neighborhood -- more specifically, all those properties which would be charged a betterment fee if a branch of the wastewater system ran past their land.
According to committee Chairman Carol Quinn, such a betterment fee has been estimated as coming in between $18,000 and $22,000 per property owner.
In addition, should a homeowner decide to actually hook up their house to the new sewer line, that would cost another $5,000 to $10,000.
The final amount of both fees will be determined on the total cost of installing the system and how much the town was willing to invest along with the award of various state grants. What remains uncovered will have to be paid for by those who stand to benefit by the new system.
At the moment, the most conservative estimate for the entire Lost Lake sewer
But to find out what residents thought about paying their share of the cost through a betterment fee, the Advisory Committee sent out a survey of which a number had been sent back.
At last Monday night's meeting, Quinn reported that of those returned, 93 were opposed to a betterment fee and 59 for it.
However, as reported by Town Manager Mark Haddad at an earlier meeting of the Board of Selectmen, included on the questionnaire was a declaration warning recipients that any form not returned to the town would be considered a "yes" vote in favor of the fee.
It was that assumption that Proulx objected to last Monday night.
"Why do that?" Proulx demanded of the committee, referring to the assumption of "yes" votes. "You should have the answer in writing."
To which committee member Thomas Orcutt replied that the town had not been required to seek the opinion of residents but Haddad wanted to find out how much support the issue had going in to Town Meeting.
Also, said Quinn, the issue of a sewer system for Lost Lake had been talked about through meetings, public hearings, and the local media enough that it was assumed that everyone had been informed about it. Thus, it was considered safe to assume that those who did not return their questionaires did so knowingly not objecting to the fee.
Still unsatisfied, Proulx wanted to know why the town could not pay for the sewer system and then charge only those who wanted to hook up for the privilege.
His answer was that the system would cost too much for the town to take on sole responsibility.
To which Proulx pointed out that the town had plenty of money to spend on open space and new fire stations; why not on a sewer system if it was as crucial to the health of Lost Lake as was being claimed?
"We're all talking about this," said Proulx of the way he and his neighbors are feeling about the sewer project. "All my neighbors are against it. For instance, my house is only 19 years old. My septic system will last for many years so I don't need to hook up to a sewer system."
Proulx said he and his neighbors are organizing and plan to attend future hearings of the Advisory Committee to let their feelings be known.
In the meantime, committee members hope to have an article prepared for the fall Town Meeting warrant asking residents to move forward and appropriate the necessary funds to pay for installation of a Lost Lake sewer system.