Oak Bluffs wastewater superintendent Joseph Alosso said this week the town may need to spend $350,000 to dig up a portion of Ocean Park and replace several failing septic grids, partly to satisfy orders from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The landmark park has been plagued by problems with effluent seeping to the surface.
And solutions to the problem keep changing.
The DEP issued a notice of noncompliance to the town last September after an inspection in late August found several effluent beds under the park were not operating properly, causing treated effluent to come to the surface periodically. The town has since entered into a consent order with the state that sets a timeline for fixing the problem.
The town has until June of 2011 to either repair the failing grids under the park or divert wastewater flow to a new site. In November the wastewater commission approved a moratorium on new sewer hookups, meaning all projects — including those that have already received a wastewater permit — would have to wait at least a year before connecting to the town sewer.
This included larger projects like the new YMCA building, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, Windemere nursing home and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
On previous occasions Mr. Alosso touted a plan to shift a majority of the wastewater flow — as much as 90 per cent — to a new site adjacent to the town wastewater plant commonly known as the Leonardo property. He expressed confidence that the town could do so within the next two years to meet the DEP deadline.
But at a wastewater commission meeting on Tuesday, attended by representatives of the DEP, town parks commission, selectmen and an engineering firm hired by the town, Mr. Alosso said the Leonardo site may not be ready in time, and more immediate repairs to the beds under Ocean Park may be necessary.
Repairing one cluster of sewer beds, located near the park bandstand, would allow the town to lift the moratorium so the regional high school and YMCA could connect to the town sewer sooner, Mr. Alosso said. He said repairs would be made this fall or next spring, and would cost around $350,000,
“The permitting for the Leonardo property is taking a little longer than we expected, and it looks like the June 2011 deadline will be very tight. The thought is that it may be better to fix Ocean Park now than rush the Leonardo property . . . we want to get it done right,” the superintendent said.
The wastewater commission has yet to decide the matter and is expected to take it up again at its meeting on July 1.
Mr. Alosso said the commission can borrow the money and has already been authorized to do so through a vote at the annual town meeting to install a primary clarifier at the town wastewater plant.
He said it made sense to repair the park while the town continues the permitting process for the Leonardo property. “We have about $7 million invested in Ocean Park, and we need that leaching capacity. I look at the $350,000 as a maintenance cost; considering the beds have been there for 10 years, that’s not an unreasonable cost at all,” he said.