Article 3 (there are five in total) of the Special Town Meeting scheduled for November 19 seeks voter approval of $55,000 for the design and bidding of the next major waterline project. The funds are anticipated to come from our local receipts (permit fees, excise taxes, etc.) and thus will not cause an increase in taxes or water rates.

In today’s market, securing a contractor has become much more challenging. Contractors, it seems, have plenty of work. This past construction season we had a few solicitations for work that came up empty — no bids were received. In the past, we have secured both design and construction funds at the annual Town Meeting in April. This had us going out to bid in the summer for fall construction, which is proving to be too late to secure a contractor.

We are looking to revise our timeline in order to have our projects out to bid much earlier. Thus, at the upcoming Fall Town Meeting voters are being asked to fund design and bidding work for the next round of major waterline replacements. Having the funds approved now will allow us to seek bids in the late winter, improving our ability to secure a contractor for next year’s construction season. 

This earlier timeframe also provides actual cost proposals that we can then take to the spring Town Meeting for precise funding requests. In the past, we have relied on estimated costs resulting in either over budgeting or under-budgeting for a particular project. While a bid does not guarantee the final price of a project (unanticipated issues often arise, e.g. more bedrock is encountered than originally estimated) it does allow for more accurate budgeting. Typically, a 10 to 15 percent contingency is budgeted to cover any unexpected expenses. 

Currently we are replacing waterlines in the eastern part of town. A new water main is going in along Magnolia Avenue along with work up Overledge Road. The crews will move over to Ocean Street to do the second half of replacing the old waterline. Finally, the crews will move over to Raymond Street to replace the waterline there (might be early spring). These projects will significantly improve the water flows to this section of town as the old pipes being replaced have collected deposits on the inside reducing the functional diameter of the pipe more than 50 percent.

Work will move to the western end of town next year. Replacing the old line on Harbor Street/Boardman Avenue is the next priority. The funding voters are being asked to approve for design work now will be followed by a request for construction funding at the April annual Town Meeting.