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Capital Improvements Start With $13M Water Filtration Plant Project, But Plenty More Are Coming

Mar 31, 2015 02:46PM ● By Bill Gilman

Tewksbury Water Filtration Plant.

When Tewksbury voters gather for the Annual Town Meeting in May, they will be asked to give officials permission to borrow $13.1 Million to upgrade and renovate the town's Water Filtration Plant.
It's the most immediate of the town's capital expenditure needs but it's hardly the only one, or even the most expensive. According to Town Manager Richard Montuori, capital project needs will have to attacked in a multi-faceted process over many years.
"We just have too many big projects and not enough money," said Montuori. "We need to take a look at what we are taking out of our accounts (to spend) and how we are replenishing those accounts."
In some cases, Tewksbury has been able to use Certified Free Cash to take care of one-time capital expenses. It's a process Montuori says can't be relied on for some of the major projects the town has coming down the road.
"Free cash is unpredictable. You just can't predict the amount from year-to-year," he said. "We're going to need debt exclusions to pay for some of these items."
Some of the items that will require borrowing include a new Central Fire Station, which carries an estimated price tag of $8.1 million and is included in Montuori's Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Year 2017. There's also $1.1 million needed for improvements to the DPW building on Whipple Road. There's also $1.1 million needed for a a new ladder truck for the Fire Department, and $2.9 million included in the plan for improvements to the towns water lines, spread out over three years.
And this doesn't include multiple new elementary schools that School Department and Town Hall officials agree are much needed and, in some cases, overdue.
Other capital items, such as a new ambulance ($145,000), a new command vehicle for the Fire Department ($48,000) and tree and stump removal around town ($140,000) are items that can likely be paid for with money from Free Cash, the Stabilization Fund or from transfers.
Montuori stresses that his Capital Improvement plan is very flexible and is always a work in process.
But the most immediate need and one that can't be put off is the improvements to the Water Filtration Plant. The town received a non-compliance order back in 2009. 
Don Chelton, the owner's (town's) project manager, presented details of the proposed project at a recent Board of Selectmen's meeting.
The project will include increased capacity, process enhancements and equipment/facility improvements. Some of the specifics include a new sludge holding tank, a new equalization (water recycling) basin and a new aeration system.
According to Chelton, the new sludge tank is needed because Lowell no longer accepts sludge, incase of an emergency. Right now, the Tewksbury tank has am emergency capacity of just 4-5 days. The new tank will increase the emergency capacity to 3-4 weeks.
The project also includes improvements to the flow measurement, filtration system and emergency generator, among other things. There will also be improvements to the HVAC system, the laboratory, the sprinkler and fire alarm systems, as well as basic masonry and concrete repairs.
"Once the facility is upgraded, you'll have a filtration plant you can use and be proud of for the next 20 years," said Chelton. According to Chelton, the project needs to go out to bid later this year or the projected costs would increase significantly.
Of the projected $13.1 million price tag, $9.82 million is construction, $650,000 is the owner's allowance for system integrator and $2.65 million is for engineering and a contingency fund.

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