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Town calls contract with Black Mountain gravity-fed sewer line

BRATTLEBORO—The town might take the unusual step of halting a major construction project and calling back its bond.

The project in question is the Black Mountain gravity fed sewer line.

Intended to replace a pump station with a lower-cost, lower-maintenance option, the gravity feed would carry waste under Interstate 91 and into the municipal system beneath Putney Road, according to Town Manager Peter Elwell.

The project was also intended to be fairly straightforward, simple, and completed by July 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as the fall flooding of 10 businesses at Black Mountain Square demonstrated — the total estimated damage was upwards of $500,000, as of December — the pipeline might be a pipe dream.

The town contracted with excavating contractor Kingsbury Construction Co., and engineering firm Hoyle, Tanner & Associates of Manchester, N.H.

Speaking at the Jan. 5 Selectboard meeting, Elwell said the project met with early difficulties that have continued to build.

“The pipe will not function in its current condition,” Elwell said.

He added that it’s rare that the Town of Brattleboro would “call a contract.”

Town Attorney Robert Fisher sent a letter dated Dec. 30, 2015, informing the project team of the town’s concerns. The letter gives the project team 10 days to meet with the Selectboard and outline a plan to get the project back on track and working, said Elwell.

If a new plan can’t happen, then the attorney’s letter also starts a process that protects the town from stopping bond payments related to the project.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #339 (Wednesday, January 13, 2016). This story appeared on page C1.

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