Nearly 100 percent of Milton voters approved a $1.67 million water infrastructure project in a vote of 341-4.
When polls closed at 6 p.m. on Jan. 16, Town Manager Kristy Rogers admitted to some nervousness, but once the machine votes showed 99 percent approval by voters for borrowing the funds to replace water mains in three sections of town, she began to look forward to the work ahead.
“It’s exciting. I think this speaks well for our citizens, trusting the plans the town has put together. I really appreciate those who voted for approval so we can move forward with our project,” Rogers said.
The next step, she said, is for Milton Town Council to approve a resolution giving the go-ahead to proceed with the project, which should happen at council’s Monday, Feb. 1 meeting. From there, Rogers said, she will finalize the town’s bid package with the idea of selecting a contractor in April and starting work in May. Construction is estimated to last through September.
The project will involve replacing water mains on Atlantic Street, Atlantic Avenue and Chestnut Street to address frequent leaks and breaks, improve flow, and remove lead contamination from the project area.
It was largely uncontroversial because the town is receiving extremely generous loan terms from the state’s Water Infrastructure Advisory Council: 100 percent loan forgiveness at the project’s completion with the town only having to make $16,700 in interest payments during the construction period. Rogers said the funds for the interest payments will come from transfer tax reserves, so no fees will be raised for town residents. Because the project funding is technically a loan and not a grant, town code required a referendum in order to approve borrowing the money.
The project involves replacing a 4-inch water main on Atlantic Avenue with a 10-inch main, and replacing a section of 6-inch main on Chestnut Street between Front Street and Coulter Street with an 8-inch main. Finally, a section of main from Atlantic Street to Cave Neck Road will be upgraded from a 6-inch main to a 12-inch main.
This is the second major water infrastructure project the town has tackled in the past three years. In 2018, voters also overwhelmingly approved a referendum to borrow $895,000 to fund a new water main creating a loop at Wagamon’s West Shores, and a new well and treatment plant at Shipbuilder’s Village.
That referendum passed with 92 percent approval, 493-38. While there were far fewer voters this time around, it should be noted the 2018 referendum was held in July as opposed to January for this referendum. For the 2021 referendum, 315 people voted by machine and 30 voted via absentee ballot.