The Town of Smyrna could possibly see improvements in the form of construction projects for utilities on Commerce Street and north of Duck Creek.

The Town of Smyrna could possibly see improvements in the form of construction projects for utilities on Commerce Street and north of Duck Creek.

Earlier this spring, town council approved a series of motions giving town manager Dave Hugg permission to apply for loans and grants for the utility projects. While the applications in no way commit the town to the loans, it gives Smyrna the ability to get the funding should they move forward with the projects.

Lack of utilities north of Duck Creek

The lack of utilities north of Duck Creek has hurt the town’s chances of attracting companies; case in point, Hugg said a big factor in losing the Amazon distribution center to Middletown was the lack of utilities and the town’s inability to get utilities installed quickly.

The projects include putting in a water system, a water tank and a sewer system north of Duck Creek.

Phase I of the water system involves putting a water system under Duck Creek and running a 10-inch water line up Route 13 on the east side up to the rest area.

Phase II includes a 750,000-gallon water tank on the east side that will basically serve the area. Hugg said there’s a big chance developers will contribute to this phase.

There’s also a project to put in a sewer system north of Duck Creek. Hugg said the town was previously approved for a loan by DNREC but the agency has been sitting on the approval while the town finishes other sewer projects. Plus there may be a redesign from the original plan that included a pump station on both sides of Route 13 to one big pump station to serve the whole area; once again developers may make contributions.

“The water and sewer projects up north are absolutely essential to any potential economic development that we might want to see happen up there,” Hugg said.

Updating Commerce Street utilities

The town is also applying for loans to do a water and sewer replacement on Commerce Street from roughly Market Street to East Street. Basically, the water and sewer systems need to be replaced because they’re old.

When this motion was approved at a March council meeting, Councilwoman Joanne Masten asked if this project could include the streetscape portion, which would have all utilities underground like on South Main Street. However, Hugg explained that this project doesn’t include the streetscape portion but does make it possible for the future.

At the time, Councilman Jeff Flairty said doing this project now would make streetscaping easier in the future.

“This is part of our commitment to keep moving forward on the downtown area. At the end of this process, it’s not going to look like it does on South Main Street but it takes us 70 to 80 percent of the way there,” he said.

 What’s next? What’s the impact?
The next step in the process is for the town to go to bid on the projects. Once the bids are in, this is when council will decide whether or not to move forward with the projects.

Hugg said they don’t know what the impact would be on the town should the town move forward with these projects; however, some initial budget looks for 2013 and 2014 show the biggest impacts would come in 2014 and beyond.

The burden of the projects may be lessened though as Hugg said they expect developers to contribute to certain portions and hope that the projects at Duck Creek will stimulate economic development.

“It may be that as we move forward we could get a couple of phone calls coming from people asking when is the water and sewer coming near my property,” Hugg said.

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