By Keith Morrill, Staff Writer
The seven properties of Lane’s Lane stand apart from the nearly 200 camps hemming the shoreline of Thompson’s Point. Though they’re readily accessible above ground, below is a different story, where they operate independently of the Point’s wastewater system. It’s that subterranean isolation that has recently come to the surface at Town Hall and Selectboard meetings, and while town officials are eager to see Lane’s Lane hook up to the municipal system, not all residents are as keen on the idea.
The Thompson’s Point wastewater system dates back to the early 1990s. At that time, a number of Point residents experienced failures in their self-contained septic systems. Because all Thompson’s Point residents are leaseholders of the land—all of which is owned by the town itself—they appealed to the town to apply for the permits necessary to create an interconnected wastewater system. The state granted the permit, and a seasonal wastewater system was constructed—with one notable exception: Lane’s Lane was not connected.
While the permit included Lane’s Lane and the system was built to handle the additional inflow, these properties were unlike the rest of Thompson’s Point in that they were year-round residencies. It didn’t make sense to connect them to what was essentially a seasonal system. Instead, new private septic systems were installed on-site for each property.
There was one hitch: if a lease changed hands, the properties would become strictly seasonal, like the rest of Thompson’s Point. Over the years, most of those properties did change ownership and become seasonal camps, with only two holdouts. Yet each of the camps remains unconnected to the municipal system because the necessary infrastructure was never extended down Lane’s Lane. Town officials and residents are at odds as to whether that should be remedied.
The Selectboard believes extending the main would be advantageous. Were the main installed, it would act as a safeguard and quick fix for residents of Lane’s Lane should their aging systems fail.
To that end, the Selectboard put a request to voters at Town Meeting this year to borrow $85,000 from the Housing Trust Fund. The money would have allowed the town to extend a force main down Lane’s Lane and to connect the camps, but voters rejected the measure.
Some residents of Lane’s Lane attended the May 8 Selectboard meeting to express their concern that the town might force them to connect to the municipal system and that doing so could prove more expensive to them than their current systems.
Town Administrator Dean Bloch said, however, there is no legal mechanism that could force residents to connect at this time. “But when [the properties] change hands, the lease can change,” explained Bloch. At that point the town would seek to amend the leases in order require residents to connect.
In the meantime, the town will have system engineers inspect all of the on-site systems at Lane’s Lane to ensure that they are functioning properly. In addition, the town will assess the cost of installing the force main and pursue other avenues for funding its installation. Their hope is that at least some residents would be willing to connect if the option existed.