They came early to town hall Tuesday, more than two-dozen customers of the Roosevelt Drive Water Users Association, cautiously ready to discuss tapping into the Bedford water supply.
For just over an hour, pushing back the 8 p.m. scheduled start of a town board meeting, they heard from town officials—for the most part Public Works Commissioner Kevin Winn—and the officials, in turn, heard from most of the residents, sometimes pointedly but always politely. The proposal under discussion, initiated by the neighborhood water users association, would have residents give up on the association’s aging facilities and join, at a price, the town water district and its brand-new filtration plant.
Winn estimated that hooking into the town system would cost the average homeowner $2,800 to $3,500 annually for the next 20 years, including the charge for installing new mains. At that price, he told the residents, they could expect softer water as well as improved water pressure, better fire protection and more-reliable service.
And for all the talk of cost, neighborhood disruption and other concerns, in the end, an informal, decidedly non-binding straw vote appeared to suggest widespread support for the town concept. No one kept an official count of the show-of-hands, but one observer put the tally at 12-4 in favor of the idea.
Of course, the question facing Roosevelt Drive residents, as well as those along two private-road appendages, Franklin and Delano drives, is not whether to spend for a new water system or make-do with the old one. The venerable neighborhood water facilities, in service for more than 60 years, would need a major overhaul, town and users association officials have said. The county Board of Health has made it clear “the status quo is not acceptable,” Town Attorney Joel Sachs pointed out. The Roosevelt Drive waterworks must be repaired or replaced by the town system.
If residents ultimately decide to join the town system, Winn said, work would begin in mid-2014. “It would be a several-months job,” he said, and cost about $750,000.
One resident, a contractor, scoffed at suggestions that a superior water supply would make a home more attractive to buyers. “I’ve never seen a house sell better because of water,” Nick Siciliano said. “I’ve seen a house sell better because of a nice kitchen.”