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BOARD VOTES TONIGHT ON WATER, SEWER ASSESSMENTS

The Town Board will vote tonight on whether to assess Sunset Island property owners for the legal and engineering costs for a water and sewer project that hasn't started yet and probably won't until next year.

Even though the Town Board authorized design work in May, it's unlikely any construction work will occur this year because of the lateness of the season. David G. Leemhuis, a DEC environmental engineer, said, "I thought that a month ago and I'm almost certain of it now."

The board's agenda includes a $100,000 bond issue to reimburse the town's expenses, Supervisor Marilynn R. Allgeier said. "We've spent $100,000 on this and we don't have much to show for it," she said.

In 1997, the board awarded a contract for the project, but the contractor backed out.

The bond issue will add about $75 per year over the next 20 years to the property tax bills for the owners of the 85 island parcels, Mrs. Allgeier said. "If you wanted to go 10 years, it would probably be twice as much." Sunset Island, actually two islands west of the Village of Wilson, is in Lake Ontario, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. The big island has 72 properties, the small island 13.

The plans must be approved by several agencies, including the state Departments of State and Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Town Attorney F. Warren Kahn said, "The engineers are waiting for all the permits to come in before they go out for bids."

Leemhuis said, "We have nothing to approve. . . . We haven't received any plans from the town. We had a meeting with Wendel Engineers in July or so, and they were going to submit the plans. They told us they were going to change the design they submitted last year."

Mrs. Allgeier said the main change called for running the water and sewer lines to the island beneath Tuscarora Bay. There would be a connection to water in Wilson-Tuscarora State Park instead of to an existing town water main. Leemhuis said that would bring the source of water three-quarters of a mile closer to the island.

However, the details also have to be worked out in writing with state parks officials, adding more red tape to an already bulging spool.

Leemhuis said the Corps of Engineers must approve the plan to cross the bay with the pipes, because the bottom of the bay is a wetland according to both state and federal regulations.

The DEC also must issue a "protection of waters" permit, he said.

And since the work would be done with 100 feet of the Lake Ontario shore, the New York Department of State must attest to the plan's compliance with its Coastal Zone Management Plan.

Even if all this were to be completed today, Leemhuis said before bid advertising requirements are fulfilled and contracts awarded, "It would be the middle of November. I don't think any contractor would want to start then."

The sewer project's cost, when built, would also be assessed on island properties. The state Division of Audit and Control limited the price to $565,000, based on the total assessed value of the 85 properties.

The water project, estimated to cost $578,000, would be borne by all town property owners.

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