By Etta Walsh
CHICOPEE – Federal stimulus money will fast-track sewer improvements to the Lorraine Street-McKinstry Avenue area that is periodically hit by severe flooding.
Residents of the area turned out for a public meeting last week that detailed the work that will bring relief from the severe flooding that has homeowners pumping out flooded basements and draining swampy yards after heavy rains.
Between 30 and 40 residents turned out for the meeting, held at the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club on 580 Meadow St., according to Ward 3 City Councilor John Vieau, who represents the district. The city is receiving about $21 million in federal stimulus funds that will finance fast-tracked, “shovel-ready” sewer projects in Chicopee this year.
“A lot of people are really thankful that things have progressed so quickly,” the councilor said. “I’m ecstatic.”
Mayor Michael Bissonnette, Department of Public Works Supervisor Stanley Kulig and Wastewater Treatment Plant Chief Operator Thomas Hamel are all supportive of the sewer project and worked to gain federal stimulus funds for its construction, he said.
Vieau said that last year’s extremely active hurricane season highlighted the flooding problems in the area, which has a history of flooding. One home had to be evacuated when eight feet of water flooded its basement and shorted out the electrical panel, according to Vieau.
“We did have a severe season last year,” Vieau said.
Hamel said the project’s target area includes portions of lower McKinstry and Shaw Park avenues, Meetinghouse Road, and Lorraine, Stedman, Roy, Vivian and Meadow streets.
Hamel said the work will:
• Install 2,500 feet of 60-inch-wide storm-drain pipe on McKinstry Avenue, between Meadow and Chicopee streets, connecting to the separated storm-drain pipe system on Jones Ferry Road, to reduce the magnitude and frequency of sewer back-ups along Meadow Street and its side streets.
• Install 5,000 feet of storm-drain pipe in those neighborhoods, connecting to the storm drain on Meadow Street. Existing separated storm-drain pipes within Sarah Jane Sherman Park and the Stefanik School parking lot will also be connected to the Meadow Street storm-drain system.
“This project will substantially reduce the storm-related overland street flooding and sewer backups within the project area and will also reduce the combined sewage flow that would be treated at the Jones Ferry facility,” Hamel said.
The projects will go out to bid this summer and construction will probably start this autumn, according to Hamel.
The wastewater treatment facility is also collecting information from residents and businesses in the area that have sump pumps or drain systems, so the city can provide a pipe in the street enabling them to hook into the city’s storm water drainage system. For information, call the Wastewater Treatment Facility, 80 Medina St., at 594-3585.
Other sewer projects that are pending in the city include Chicopee Falls, from Wheatland Avenue to East Street, and upper Granby Road.
The city is under a $150 million order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to separate sewer and storm water pipes throughout the city, to prevent untreated sewage from flowing into the Chicopee and Connecticut rivers.
Federal stimulus money to fast-track sewer improvements
By Etta Walsh