Vera Cruz residents learn about $5 million public sewer project
Public sewer project construction will last from March to December this year.
Construction for the long-anticipated, $5 million public sewer project in the Vera Cruz area of Upper Milford Township will begin this March.
About 130 people attended an information session Jan. 27 for property owners in the Vera Cruz area that was hosted by the Lehigh County Authority in the Upper Milford Township building.
The vast majority of the properties in the area are single-family homes and the conversion from septic to sewer will cost those homeowners $8,931.
There are 18 multi-family residences in the area as well. Their up-front costs range from $9,311 to $14,976. Commercial properties’ up-front costs range from $9,307 to $16,855.
Residents must also get three permits totaling $225 from the township: a plumbing permit, electrical work permit and a septic system closure permit.
Upper Milford Supervisors are expected to adopt a “mandatory connection ordinance” on March 3. Following adoption of the ordinance, the LCA will award the contracts for the project and work will begin in March.
Reactions from residents following the information session were mixed.
“We have absolutely no choice in the matter,” said James Castellano of Mill Road. “They make it seem so easy. It’s a joke.”
In contrast, Ronald Mutchler of Shimerville Road said, “The meeting was well done. I got the information that I wanted.
The written information provided by the LCA stated: “The lots within the project area vary in size from .25 acres to 24 acres and many have been plagued with failing or questionable onsite sewage disposal systems for over 20 years … There is no feasible method to resolve the existing failures without the installation of a public system.”
Frank Leist, capital works manager for LCA, gave a presentation that primarily outlined the financial options, which are also outlined in information packets that will be sent to all residents affected by the plan who did not attend the meeting.
Property owners can get funding assistance, including loans from the LCA with 4 percent interest, with a term between 1 to 5 years payable in monthly installments.
Residents might also consider a home equity loan.
JoAnn M. Siderias, assistant branch manager for Susquehanna Bancshares, Inc., in Emmaus was available in a separate room of the township building during the information session to discuss home equity loans. She said installation of public sewers will increase property values.
Also, people with low to moderate incomes might be eligible for funds from the federal Community Development Block Grant program.
Paulette G. Gilfoil, CDBG program coordinator for Lehigh County, also was available during the information session to meet with residents. She said a family of four with a household income up to $56,000 would be eligible for CDBG funding.
The Vera Cruz public sewer project will be divided into three sections, but all construction within the roadways of the area are expected to be complete by the end of December 2011. In some cases, however, paving restoration may be deferred until the spring of 2012.
PACT Construction Inc. of New Ringoes, NJ, submitted the low bid of $2.3 million and will be the general contractor on the project. The company will install piping in the right-of-way.
Only one company, Environment One Corporation, submitted a bid to supply individual pumps and to supervise the proper installation by each property owner’s plumber. The company submitted a bid of $755,865.
It’s up to each property owner to choose a plumber. Leist advised property owners to get three estimates from plumbers as soon as possible.
The Vera Cruz public sewers will connect to a western Lehigh County interceptor system, which leads to the City of Allentown’s treatment plant. Leisel Adam, spokeswoman for the LCA, said this will be more cost effective than trying to develop a separate treatment plant for the Vera Cruz area.
During the information session, some residents asked whether the township would consider waiving the permit fees to help defray costs. Leist said they could bring that question to a township meeting.