STEVE LEVESQUE, executive director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, stands next to one of the larger sewer pump stations spread around Brunswick Landing Wednesday that will be part of a $1.3 million upgrade project. DARCIE MOORE / THETIMES RECORD

STEVE LEVESQUE, executive director of Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, stands next to one of the larger sewer pump stations spread around Brunswick Landing Wednesday that will be part of a $1.3 million upgrade project. DARCIE MOORE / THETIMES RECORD

BRUNSWICK

When progress at Brunswick Landing is touted, it’s the businesses that are being opened or development projects taking shape.

The work that goes on behind the scenes — or underground — doesn’t get the spotlight. But if it wasn’t for infrastructure work, that progress wouldn’t be possible.

Taking care of the 60-year-old utilities at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station has been part of what the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has been tasked with, including the sewer system.

MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said the authority has spent nearly $2.5 million on that work, with guidance from the Brunswick Sewer District to ensure those upgrades meet the district’s standards.

As of July 1, the sewer district took over ownership of the main gravity-fed sewer lines at Brunswick Landing. However, there are still seven sewer pump stations that need upgrading, a $1.3 million project shared with the sewer district, according to Levesque.

This should be the last fix for the remaining sewer infrastructure MRRA owns that will eventually be transferred to Brunswick Sewer District.

To help fund the remaining work, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration on Tuesday awarded MRRA a $615,000 matching grant. The grant will help repair and upgrade the sanitary sewer pumps needed to support industrial and commercial business development at Brunswick Landing.

“We commend the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority for working to generate economic opportunities by improving facilities to attract new business,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs Dennis Alvord. “This project will provide the necessary infrastructure to create hundreds of new jobs in Maine.”

Levesque said the rebuilding and replacement of pump stations may not begin until the spring of 2019.

“It’s important,” Levesque said Wednesday. “These are old pump stations. It’s part of our deal with the sewer district. We’ve already upgraded all the distribution lines — the gravity lines — and have transferred that system over to the district as of July 1. Then the pump stations will be transferred to the district as they’re rebuilt.”

He said the work will initially focus on four or five pumps. Another two are in a part of the former base that hasn’t yet been redeveloped, so it wouldn’t make sense to design an upgrade yet, Levesque said.

Leonard Blanchette, general manager of the Brunswick Sewer District, agreed with that plan.

“No matter how you look at it, this is all taxpayer’s money … so we want to spend it wisely,” he said Wednesday.

The Navy isn’t making the fixes, and it’s important that the district ratepayers don’t foot the bill for the upgrades to the Brunswick Landing system, Blanchette added said.

“Let’s help MRRA get their system up to at least the standard that is the same as ours,” Blanchette said. “And to me, that’s the right way to do it. Let’s upgrade them, let’s modernize them, let’s get technology into the pump stations they should have.”

That could include radar technology allowing the pumps to run more efficiently and alert sewer district staff when things aren’t running as they should.

“It’s a significant project,” Levesque said. “It’s certainly not sexy but … what people don’t realize is when they flush the toilets, stuff goes somewhere and it has to be managed.”

Levesque said upgrades like this are part of MRRA’s redevelopment efforts at Brunswick Landing. The authority has also spent more than $1 million on the old electric system.

“We need to upgrade all of it,” he said. “Those systems fail over time.”

MRRA is trying to reinvest in the infrastructure and has had help from the town with creation of tax increment financing districts.

“The town of Brunswick has been supportive of using TIF money, so revenue generated from property taxes here at Brunswick Landing — a portion is going right back into the property for infrastructure upgrades,” he said.

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