HARVARD -- Word came Monday that Harvard will be receiving funds from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's Revolving Fund (SRF) program. Town Center Sewer Building Committee Chairman Chris Ashley alerted the selectmen of the news in advance of next Tuesday's selectmen's meeting, Aug. 3.
In the spring, the town was notified it didn't make the initial state list of communities awarded such funding. Now, four months later, the green light's been given.
"We have moved up the funding list because other communities which ranked higher on the intended use plan will not be moving forward with their projects, freeing up committed funds," Ashley explained.
Ashley said the first step is to confirm with the state's program director that the town intends to participate in the joint state-federal, low-interest financing program.
The next step is a "borrower's meeting" with the DEP. Key town officials are to attend, including Selectmen Chairman Peter Warren, Town Administrator Tim Bragan, Finance Director Lorraine Leonard and Ashley.
The town sought a $2 million Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan at 2 percent interest for a 20-year term. The loan is to be paid back by town center betterment and user fees. Backed by federal "stimulus" or ARRA money (American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009), the state and federal goals are to spur construction jobs.
"The investment in clean-water infrastructure is expected to be a boost to the engineering and construction industries in Massachusetts," reads a May letter from Mass DEP Municipal Services Director Steve McCurdy. "The wide availability of contractors and engineers, and an abundant supply of materials have created a favorable bidding environment for project owners.
The Town Center Sewer Building Committee successfully urged the selectmen to move ahead with preliminary groundwork earlier this year. Test borings, land surveys, preliminary plans for the collection system, and layout for manholes and connections have been performed.
That early action turned out to be a good thing, according to Ashley. "This allows us to focus on meeting all the SRF participation requirements by the Oct. 15 deadline, then work through design-specification details and policy-organizational issues."
Ashley is to brief the selectmen at Tuesday's meeting to plot the town's moves going forward. "I would like to acknowledge our engineering consultant's consistent efforts to keep our project before the SRF administrators and their help in achieving this important milestone," Ashley said of work jointly performed by Weston & Sampson and Norfolk Ram Group.
Some 65 single and multifamily homes will be served by the sewer-project downtown. Also businesses and several municipal buildings will tie in, providing relief from failed septic systems, lots too tiny to host leeching fields, ledge and high water tables.
Another goal is to service institutions, and municipal buildings. The plan calls for changes to the existing wastewater-treatment plant off of Massachusetts Avenue. The present system in place there already services the elementary and middle high schools, and was deemed to have excess capacity.
"Treatment facility is being upgraded with expanded flow buffering capacity and improved nutrient processing but no expansion of capacity," Ashley explained, "That is limited by permit and the capacity of our subsurface discharge field.