PEPPERELL -- Following completion of the Covered Bridge and the Mill Street Bridge replacement projects, the DPW has now turned its attention to the Hollis Street Bridge, a concrete and steel structure that was built in the 1950's.
"The superstructure is sound. Actually, it's in very, very good condition, and that's been verified by the state's biannual inspection reports," said DPW Director Kenneth Kalinowski.
"But, as most people may have noticed, the deck and the railings are in significant disrepair," he said.
Kalinowski advised the board that the 54-year old structure was recently inspected by a state crew who agreed with his assessment that the concrete rails were in immediate need of repair. State crews were on the bridge within days of the inspection to effect repairs.
With a new season of paving soon to begin, Kalinowski has requested that the state consider milling the bridge deck and resurfacing it in coordination with the Highway Department's plans to resurface that portion of Hollis Street.
"If all things go as well as we could expect, they'll finish their work sometime over the course of the summer, and we'll just move into our 2013 roads program and tie in on both ends," said Kalinowski.
The town is still awaiting $417,000 in Chapter 90 funds for road paving.
"The House and Senate are unable to come to some agreement. The dispute went to a Senate-House conference committee where it still sits today," said Kalinowski.
"Since Chapter 90 funding accounts for virtually our entire road budget, this delay is frustrating and could result in an extremely limited slate of road repairs this year," he said.
Commissioner Patrick McNabb brought a citizen concern to the attention of Kalinowski regarding the plans for completing Brookline street paving.
"The thought is to overlay it next year. We had a very dry winter and spring and we did not get the consolidation and settlement that we thought we'd get until much later," said Kalinowski who added that a "drag shim" might be put on the road later this summer to level out the road.
Following up on a query by McNabb on the status of connections to the three most recent sewer extension projects, Water and Sewer Superintendent Laurie Stevens advised the board that connections remain well below a third of the total number of homes that could connect.
Only 15 percent have connected to the Tucker-Oak Hill-Parker extension that was completed in 2005; 28 percent have connected to the 2008 Nashua Road extension; and, 24 percent have connected to the 2010 Indian Village extension.
"Our internal projecttions were higher," said Commissioner Greg Rice.
"When the town decided to opt out of mandatory connections, that number plummets," said Kalinowski.
"Even though there may be a long term advantage to them (connecting), they can't afford to do it in the short term," said Rice who noted that the economy was not conducive to connecting for many home owners.
Kalinowski updated the board on a recent auto accident on Park Street that resulted in a widespread power outage in town. The accident took out power to the pump station which was fed with a private feed from that damaged pole. The pump station ran on backup generator power through the night.
"We didn't lose any significant service - the sewer system never went down," said Kalinowski.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant will be receiving a Huber Press for a one-week evaluation.
"It can dewater the sludge to a higher percent cake solid," explained Stevens.
Liquid disposal is more expensive to haul away, whereas the solid cake by-product has more uses such as composting. Less liquid content in the byproduct reduces the cost of compost production and allows fitting more sludge into the six-bay shed at the treatment plant.
The board acknowledged newly appointed Commissioner Paul Brinkman for a one-year term, as well as returning Commissioner Lewis Lunn who was appointed to a two-year term.
The board approved water abatements for 67 Nashua Road in the amount of $37.42 and for 27 Elm St in the amount of $35.24.