Wachapreague Responds to Sewer Op-Ed

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Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to Mr. Joechel’s op-ed piece published in the Oct. 1 issue of the
Eastern Shore Post regarding the HRSD and the Town of Wachapreague.

I am Fred Janci, Mayor, Town of Wachapreague, and this response has been reviewed and approved by the entire Wachapreague Town Council.

Fact #1 (hotel marketing report). Yes, the proposed expansion was not recommended, However, Wachapreague does have other waterfront businesses that would benefit from sewer service. We have the existing the Wachapreague Inn, The Island House Restaurant, U.S. Coast Guard Station Wachapreague, Lilliston Seafood, VIMS, Wachapreague Marina, Current Reflections Fine Art Gallery, Wachapreague Town Hall, Wachapreague Volunteer Fire Department, and the entire commercial neighborhood.

Fact #2 (only commercial use). As it is currently being proposed, the system will be composed of a mainline from Route 13 to a pump station at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Riverview Street. No individual connections can be made along this line. A collection system will extend from the pump station, encompassing our waterfront commercial and business district, along which individual connections can be made. This area is currently our most vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise and has the least available property for above-ground sewer systems. Residents abutting this line will be given the option to connect or to not connect.

Fact #3 & #4 (inclusion of growth areas). Yes, future population trends for Wachapreague and the surrounding area are being considered. This helps establish the size of the mainline pipe to be installed. It would be folly to install a pipe only large enough to serve current needs without consideration given for future needs. The major expense is not the size of the pipe but the cost of installing the pipe.

Fact #5 (residential hook-up). These are policies being considered on a state level and will impact all communities in flood-prone low-lying areas, especially the Eastern Shore. We can put our heads in the sand and pretend not to hear and do nothing, or we can take advantage of an opportunity and plan for the future of our town. The future is coming, like it or not.

Fact #6 (future hook-up requirements). The #1 benefit is that Wachapreague will be connected. If, in the future, our children or grandchildren or whoever inherits these properties want additional service lines, they can decide for themselves. If, after a few residents’ current sewer systems fail and they are forced to install $20,000 to $40,000 raised systems, they will be thankful for the foresight we have to give Wachapreague residents the option of this sewer system. And these days are coming, like it or not. We may not see it, but our children and grandchildren will.

Fact #7 (cost). First, are Joeckel’s numbers correct? The consultant/engineer has presented the town with three options. The council has not yet met to discuss any option or to trim any excess costs. Joeckel’s cost estimates are premature and overblown and do not reflect any grant monies or other contributions that may be relevant. There will also be NO operations and maintenance costs as they will become the HRSDs responsibility.

Fact #8 (vote on sewer) and questions for Town Council. The town is NOT going to subsidize any business or VIMS. The town is not looking at annexation of any additional areas, but if we did, it would require the approval of the residents. We can’t just take over! And as for Wachapreague becoming the next Ocean City, we have limited land area, limited amenities, no beaches, and a zoning ordinance to prevent that.

To all interested, John Joeckel is NOT a member of the Wachapreague Town Council and thus cannot establish meeting agendas or formats.

We need to narrow down the possibilities before we can present the residents with a final plan with financing options lined up. All are welcome to attend but public comments will not be taken. They may be given at a Town Council meeting, at a public hearing on this issue at a future date, or in writing with your name, residence address and your property location included.

Fred Janci, Mayor
Sandie Puchalski, Vice Mayor
Glenn Shagelin, councilor
Robert Williams, councilor
Robert Bilicki, councilor
Stephen Joseph, councilor
Margo Digan, councilor