Oct. 21, 2002 – Engineers working on the sewer line project connecting the eastern end of St. Thomas with a new wastewater treatment plant are taking a third trip to the drawing board in an attempt to win support from residents of a community near the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack for routing the pipeline through their area.
Public Works Department officials have irked the Estate Nadir homeowners in two public meetings held to present department plans to channel wastewater away from two defunct sewage treatment plants in Estate Tutu and direct the flow toward the brand-new Turpentine Run/Mangrove Lagoon plant. The second confrontation occurred on Friday night.
Homeowners say they're not only still angry but also now confused, because the plan presented Friday was completely different from the one outlined at a smaller meeting held on Sept. 27 for residents along what Public Works authorities refer to as Stromboni Road. After that meeting, the sewer line project manager, Charles Bornman, said he would come back with an alternative to the initially proposed route, because of the residents' opposition.
On Sunday, Nadir resident Leonardo Trotman, who happens to be a retired Public Works road project manager, said he was surprised to find the new route laying the sewer line in his backyard. The plan was made without notifying, let along consulting, him, a move that he said propelled him into the office of Sonia Nelthropp, Public Works solid waste and wastewater management director. "You don't do things like that," he said.
Trotman and some of his neighbors say they don't understand why the new sewer line has to be run through their community at all, since there are no plans to hook up their homes to it. They also are worried that with the gravity involved in channeling tons of wastewater from upper-lying Tutu areas down into Nadir, only to pump it uphill again to the new treatment plant, the system could deteriorate over time, flooding their streets with sewage.
"They've got to go back to the drawing board," Trotman said. "That's a lot of crap! They just want to run the pipe through; they don't want to hook us up. When they try to do that in the States, what do they say? 'Not here!'"
Trotman said he's willing to help Public Works authorities figure out the problem and expects to meet with them to review the plans and seek an alternate route for the pipeline.
Another homeowner, Janet Hansby, is concerned about the air quality during the actual construction work. "The streets in here are very narrow," she said, "and when they dig up the streets, there is going to be a lot of dust; and so, we want to know when are they going to clean up the roofs, test the water, things, like that."
Residents of the area, bordered on one side by Turpentine Run Road and on another side by Bovoni Road near "the Bridge to Nowhere," already have been subjected for months to dust caused by road construction and trench digging that's under way.
St. John resident Alecia Wells attended Friday night's meeting, held at the Nadir basketball court, because of concern for her elderly mother, an area resident. She recalled Hansby's appearance at an Oct. 9 Senate committee hearing brandishing a bottle of dirty water that she said was what she got from mopping up the dust on her floors twice a day.
Bornman said following the Sept. 27 meeting that one compelling reason to run the sewer line through the Nadir community is a side benefit it would bring. Residents have waited for years to get potable water; Water and Power Authority officials said the work could begin in a month, but that it would occur only if the WAPA crews worked behind the Public Works crews, utilizing the sewer line excavation to lay the water lines.
However, having weighed the sentiments of the residents, Bornman now says the two projects don't have to go hand in hand. "If we don't go down Stromboni Road" with the sewer line, he said Monday, "we'll consider other options. When we went to the meeting, it wasn't cast in stone."
However, he added, "Any other option we choose, we're going to run into other utilities running in the ground. We're going to run into roads we'll have to close. We've given instructions to the contractor to go down Turpentine Run Road to a certain manhole and then turn and go into an open space." Where the pipeline will go from there, he said, will be determined after reviewing the project plans once again.
Public Works has until next March to expend federal grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency to finish the sewer pipeline project. Bornman said he hopes to have the work done before Christmas, giving engineers time to test the system and make any needed adjustments to make sure it works according to plan..
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