Old Orchard Beach Wastewater Superintendent Chris White stands in front of the facility’s main control center on Sept. 7. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Residents in Old Orchard Beach will vote in November whether to approve a $1 million bond that would fund the majority of a new administration building at the town’s Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The facility sits at the end of Manor Street in the Ocean Park area of town, and processes wastewater from residences and businesses hooked up to the town sewer system.

A 2011 report from environmental engineering firm Wright Pierce found that about 90 percent of the town’s plumbed buildings is attached to town sewer. According to information from the town website, the population swells from about 9,000 to 75,000 in the summer.

Town Manager Larry Mead said at a Sept. 4 Town Council meeting that town staff have thought “long and hard” about a proposal for a new administration building at the Wastewater Treatment campus. Currently, the wastewater facility administrative space is in a multi-use building.

It’s a building that was never intended, really, to be administration,” Mead said.

The proposed project would be partly funded through $350,000 from the sewer reserve fund.

The bulk of the proposed project would come from a $1 million bond that will need approval by voters at the Nov. 6 election. A public hearing on the proposed bond will be held at the Oct. 16 Town Council meeting.

Wastewater Treatment Superintendent Chris White said a portion of the administration building was constructed in the 1960s as a laboratory, control room and single office. It was expanded in the 1970s and the additional space was used for a sludge processing area, which was converted into make-shift office space in 1985.

The building still contains a pump station and bulk chlorine storage, and control and electrical wiring run through the building, White said.

The building contains asbestos and multiple code violations,” he said.

It does not have adequate office, planning, laboratory or storage space, White said.

 “We are so cramped for room, but we can’t do much about it,” he said.

For the town to make more improvements in the future at the wastewater facility, Mead and White both said, it is necessary to separate the administration building now so that the facility can continue to function when other renovations take place.

Should the new administration building be approved, White said, the existing building would remain and continue to house operations.

A new administrative building will allow staff to work in a safe and efficient manner; and give the department the space it needs for future planning,” he said.

Removing the operations currently contained in the existing administration building will be complex. The new administrative building will be integral in proper planning and will avoid exposing staff to hazards during future demolition.

 Odor stemming from the treatment facility, which many Ocean Park residents have complained about, is one area that will not be improved by the proposed new building.

The odor problem is one that Town Councilor Michael Tousignant said he’s heard about for the past eight years.

This has been going on for way too long,” he said at the Sept. 4 Town Council meeting.

Several Ocean Park residents and home owners spoke out at recent Town Council meetings

Summer resident Bruce Dickinson said at a recent Town Council meeting he could smell an “extreme odor” at his home on Connecticut Avenue and he had even been woken up in the middle of the night by the smells coming from the Wastewater Treatment Facility. He said he loses rental business because people don’t want to deal with the odor.

Timothy McCormack, another Connecticut Avenue homeowner, said he appreciated the time Mead and White had spent with Ocean Park homeowners, and he hoped the town would make mitigating the stench a priority.

After hearing complaints from neighbors of the facility and doing some research, the town sough bids for a cover and odor control measures for the primary sludge holding tank, which has been identified as a source of much of the odor coming from the facility.

The bids the town has received range from $112,000 to $262,000, and don’t include plumbing, installation and other associated costs.

The Town Council isn’t slated to vote on any measures to mitigate odors from the wastewater facility, but will discuss the matter at Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting.

 — Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]

 

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