Last updated: August 20. 2014 8:51AM - 610 Views
By - swillets@civitasmedia.com

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FAIRMONT — Fairmont residents can expect a knock at their door in the coming weeks as surveyors work to beef up the town’s application for $2 million in grants to rehabilitate its sewer system.

The town’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday held a public hearing on a Community Development Block Grant it has applied for to replace about 20,000 feet of sewer lines.

The town submitted an almost identical application for the grant last spring, but it was not funded.

In a presentation to the commissioners, Bill Cowan, of McGill Associates, said that the town’s previous application had scored poorly when it came to a requirement that the majority of the project serve low- to moderate-income areas.

In order to bring the percentage of low-income areas up, the higher-income Collinswood neighborhood was eliminated from the project.

“As competitive as this is, we need all the help we can get,” Cowan said.

To make sure the project targets the areas most in need of improvements, a surveyor with the Lumber River Council of Governments will begin going door to door to ask residents about their income. The commissioners plan to accompany the surveyor in their own districts.

Cowan said any unoccupied households won’t be counted. If a homeowner declines to give their income range, they will automatically be counted as high-income. The survey will be anonymous.

Cowan was unsure when surveying would begin but said it must be complete by the Oct. 2 deadline to apply for the grant. He said, if the grant is won, he does not expect sewer and water service would be disrupted during construction.

The board also voted to implement an Asset Management Program with the help of the Lumber River Council of Governments.

According to Jim Perry, who made a presentation to the board, the program begins with scanning maps of the town’s water and sewer systems to assess the condition of all the pumping equipment, generators, treatment equipment and other assets. Town staff will then be able to judge how damaging a failure of each piece of equipment would be while prioritizing needed upgrades. Each day when the program is opened, it will present staff with a daily task list based on those needs.

“We’ve never undertaken a project that looked back at things done 70 years ago,” Mayor Charles Townsend said. “It’s time.”

Parts of Fairmont’s sewer system — like clay lines and brick manholes — date back to 1914.

“We all know what the infrastructure looks like in this town … this town is caving in,” said Commissioner Terry Evans, stressing that Public Works employees should know where repairs are needed most.

The entire program will cost the town about $15,790 and the Council of Governments will contribute another $1,000. Participating in the program will add points to the town’s application for the sewer repair grant.

“We’re going to have to watch the budget extremely closely, but I do recommend it because I think it’s something we’re going to have to have,” Town Manager Linda Vause said.

In other business, the board:

— Accepted a bid of $7,500 for two parcels of land on N.C. 41 near the Holliday-Frye Warehouse and one on N.C. 41 about 60 feet north of N.C. 130.

— Accepted a bid of $1,100 for property at the intersection of Market and McDaniel streets.

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