2009-01-15 / News

Town to submit request for federal funding

By Sam Bari

Five projects, totaling just over $31 million, top Town Administrator Bruce Keiser's list of "ready to go" water abatement projects the town hopes will receive funding under an anticipated $100 million dollar economic stimulus package from the federal government.

The project list will be sent to the Department of Environmental Management and is required in order for the town to be eligible to receive a share of the federal funds.

The Town Council held a special meeting to discuss the matter on Monday night. Keiser said that he would prioritize town projects as directed in a letter from DEM Director Michael Sullivan, whose office is serving as co-administrator with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for the federal water pollution funding programs for the state.

Keiser said that the list would include the replacing of 46,000- feet of water lines, a project estimated at $11,500,000; the replacement or relining of 60,000-feet of sewer collection pipes estimated to cost $5,700,000; downtown improvements in the commercial district, a $1,190,000 project; bury downtown overhead wires on Narragansett and Conanicus Avenues, a $900,000 project; $4,000,000 worth of road improvements; and a wind energy turbine project worth $8,000,000.

Department of Public Works Deputy Director Michael Gray and Town Planner Lisa Bryer were on hand to offer input on eligible projects. Director Sullivan also attended the meeting and said that projects, in order of priority, that were ready to go would more than likely get first consideration.

The letter from Sullivan's office said, "In addition to the traditional sewering and wastewater treatment facility projects, please remember that the closure of landfills, the construction of salt storage sheds, the treatment of stormwater and energy effi ciency improvements and upgrades of wastewater treatment facilities and pumping stations are considered water pollution abatement projects."

Sullivan said that the details of the program still have to be worked out, but President-Elect Obama and Congress want to send the stimulus bill monies to the states as soon as possible. Consequently, timing is critical and a response must be at his offi ce no later than this week.

The council discussed the various projects that the town has scheduled with cost estimates and made recommendations for prioritizing the list before voting to authorize Keiser to draft a response.

Keiser said, "The $1.2 million that DOT has already approved for downtown improvement should definitely be on the list."

Town Council President Julio DiGiando said that he thought wind energy would be one of the first considerations.

Council member Robert Sutton agreed, saying, "water, sewer, downtown improvement, and wind energy were the most important."

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