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Water Comm. weighs budget OKs Cardinal Way main extension

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GROTON — The Water Commission met Tuesday night to discuss a number of ongoing issues, including efforts to bring spending into line with the department’s approved operating budget for fiscal 2011.

First up was a pair of water main extension requests, including one for the A.L. Prime gas station owned by Nassar Buisier.

Buisier’s plans to upgrade and expand the existing 50-year -old gas station, located along Route 119, was given the green light last year when the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted to uphold an earlier decision by the building inspector to grant the owner a permit to make the changes.

In presentations before the ZBA and other town boards, Buisier has said that he planned to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new structure that would include a convenience store, installation of new pumping islands and overhead canopy, and replacement of aging underground fuel-storage tanks with those that were larger and more up to date.

Last year, the Board of Selectmen voted to allow Buisier to replace the station’s storage tanks with two new tanks of 15,000 and 5,000 gallons each.

With the removal of the existing building and installation of the storage tanks, work on the property has already begun and the owner is now prepared to lay down an extension from the Water Department’s main running along Route 119 to the site.

When the old station was in operation, water was supplied by a private well, but with the intention of opening a small convenience store at the site, which among other things, will serve coffee, connection to town water was made necessary.

Discussion of the issue was scheduled to take place at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday, but a representative of A.L. Prime failed to appear so the issue was delayed.

Conversely, even though no one appeared to discuss a 500- foot water main extension to Cardinal Way, also off Route 119, it did not prevent commissioners from voting in favor of the request by the Moulton Construction Co., developer of the project.

Cardinal Way is a cul-de-sac of seven lots, part of a larger subdivision being developed by David Moulton called Rocky Hill located off Sandy Pond Road. When completed, the project could include up to 84 multiuse units.

Tuesday night’s decision by the Water Commission will allow Moulton to connect the seven homes on Cardinal Way to the town’s water system.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda was discussion of the ongoing effort to protect a future source of drinking water for the town at Unkety Brook.

After failing last year to receive the full amount it needed, the commission has again applied for $75,000 from Community Preservation Committee (CPC) funds in order to pay for a feasibility study of the area surrounding the proposed well site.

Residents at last year’s Town Meeting voted to appropriate $8,650 to pay for a review of the feasibility of purchasing land surrounding Unkety Brook, but failed to approve the amount needed for a complete study of the proposal. For that reason, the commission returned this year for the full $75,000.

According to Water Superintendent Thomas Orcutt, eventually the Water Department would like to purchase a conservation restriction on an acre around the potential well site located off Chicopee Row.

The purchase, to be made from Robert and Jennifer Delaney, would be part of a larger goal to protect a 300-foot radius surrounding Unkety Brook.

Winning the application to the CPC would go a long way to easing the Water Department’s fiscal headaches, as commissioners Tuesday began to wrestle with cost reductions needed to bring the department’s spending into line with earnings for fiscal 2011, which are not expected to reach those of previous years.

Due to the continuing economic downturn and recent heavy rains that have reduced the need among customers for town water, commissioners expected a gap of $30,000-$50,000 to grow between earnings and costs. For that reason, cuts in spending might be made necessary, prompting a review of possible reductions in payroll, pumping and power usage.

An fiscal 2011 operating budget of $1,026,770 was approved for the Water Department by residents at Town Meeting held Tuesday.