By John Hummer
The Brooklyn Food Pantry is considering the purchase of a piece of property on Sheridan Street at the corner of Irwin in the village for a permanent home as they are outgrowing their temporary location on South Main Street, often with cars lined up to get in. However, sewer connections to the site have been an issue that the Brooklyn Village Council discussed at their Aug. 8 meeting and addressed at a special meeting on Aug. 15.
In a memo to the council for the Aug. 8 meeting, Interim Village Manager Jae Guetschow stated that the pantry was reportedly given the impression that the parcel would have access to an existing sewer main at that location. However, he noted that the sewer main on Sheridan Street ends approximately 250 feet north of the property and 250 feet east of the end of the Irwin Street main. There is a water main that serves the site.
In attempting to resolve the problem, contracted village engineer Jack Ripstra provided two options for extending a gravity sewer main to the property – one option for each street. The Irwin Street extension, as proposed, would be more costly at $71,450, Guetschow said, but it would potentially serve five commercial properties. An extension for the Sheridan Street sewer main would serve three properties at an estimated cost of $38,275.
“We would get a small portion of that back anytime anybody hooked up,” stated Village Council President Estella Roberts. “There would be a hook-up fee that would reduce this by something – whatever that amount might be.”
The sewer issue came about during the 1970s when the village bore the initial cost of installing sewer mains without regard to extending the system throughout the boundaries of the village, noted Guetschow. He added that sewer mains appear to have often been terminated at the last structure on many streets. “I wasn’t here when the original sewer systems were put in the village, but a certain amount of it was kind of done haphazardly in my opinion,” he said. “They basically ran sewers in front of existing buildings, in the case of Irwin Street, and they weren’t really concerned about future development. There are some light industrial and commercial properties all along there, some of which are fully developed, and some of which might not get fully developed until there are village services there.
“There is some inconsistency in how our sewer system was installed,” Guetschow stated. “I’m hard pressed to say we shouldn’t do anything further on Irwin Street when we obviously have a glaring contradiction with that sewer main that goes all the way north of town.” In that case, he pointed out that a village sewer main was extended to the former site of a laundromat at 9947 Brooklyn Road (most recently D&D Auto Sales) which has remained outside of the village boundary. “You can’t correct that, but I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be in the village’s best interest to extend that sewer on Irwin Street because it has the potential for some further commercial development along there.”
“I get doing that, but if we do that are we opening a can of worms going forward, ‘Now we have to do it here, and here, and here?” questioned Bliven at the Aug. 8 meeting. Guetschow replied, “We may have to do it case by case where it makes sense.”
Council member Gabriella Bach brought up the same concern at the Aug. 15 special meeting. “It would not be our intention to waive any of the hook-up fees,” Roberts stated. “[The Brooklyn Food Pantry] would just be like any other customer.”
Guetschow mentioned that there are 14 acres of property for sale south of the village’s Department of Public Works garage. “We’d have the same dilemma for them at some point.
Roberts noted that the village has extended water mains where once they were “dead end” water mains. “We, the village, have used our water money to eliminate most of those. We used to have a lot of them that, of course, created lots of issues.”
The food pantry previously considered the installation of a grinder can and pump at the site with a connection via a pressurized lead to the nearest manhole at an estimated cost of $15,000. However, that option would only serve that site and leave the food pantry with responsibility for maintenance of the grinder pump indefinitely.
Guetschow noted that the construction of a facility to house the food pantry at the Sheridan Street property would eliminate the occasional traffic issue on South Main Street. An additional benefit is that the parcel is a corner lot which would accommodate a one-way drive from Sheridan Street to Irwin Street for efficient distribution of food. Further, Irwin Street will have an increased potential for new commercial development if village services, including sewer, could be extended to some parcels.
“That’s basically our future as far as looking at the growth – on Irwin,” said council member Stacy Hicks.
“If we ever want to see some development, it would be wise to put [the sewer main extension] in,” stated council member Phil Krauss.
At the Aug. 8 meeting, the council reached a consensus on directing Guetschow to get a firm quote for extending sewer service to the Sheridan/Irwin streets location.
At the Aug. 15 special meeting, Guetschow presented a verbal quote from RJT Construction for around $60,000, with the unknown factor of material costs. “In the last year, sewer and water pipe costs have tripled in price,” he stated. The earliest they could get the Irwin Street sewer main extended would be late 2022 or early 2023.
Councilman Phil Bliven asked about the status of the village sewer budget. “The sewer fund has been in pretty good shape as far as reserves,” Guetschow replied. The council then approved a motion to allow Guetschow to move forward with the sewer main extension for Irwin Street. That council action will now allow the food pantry to proceed with its property acquisition.