Authority agrees to pay $30,000 for easement

By Sherry conohan
Staff Writer

By Sherry conohan
Staff Writer

MONMOUTH BEACH — The tennis courts will be spared.

The Two Rivers Water Reclamation Authority and the Sands Point North Condominium Association have reached an accord on an easement the authority will take out along the Meadow Avenue side of the condo complex to run a new electrical conduit for the sewage treatment plant.

The route now planned will allow the authority to avoid tearing up the Sands Point North tennis courts to lay the conduit. The courts were built over a public right of way under which the present conduit lies.

The sewer authority will make a one-time payment of $30,000 for the easement, according to Michael A. Gianforte, executive director of the authority.

William J. O’Hagan Jr., attorney for the TRWRA, said Friday the two sides had come to an agreement on the easement and the wording of it. He said it was sent to the condo association to sign first, before the authority signs.

"I think it will happen very quickly," he said of concluding the deal.

Elwood Baxter, chairman of the TRWRA, said at the authority’s meeting on Nov. 19 that a tentative agreement had been reached. He said they had an agreement on the price, but the authority was unhappy with some of the wording in the proposed agreement and negotiations would continue on that.

Just in case the negotiations failed, the authority passed a resolution authorizing the commencement of condemnation proceedings for the TRWRA to acquire the easement. Baxter said at the time he didn’t expect the authority would have to exercise that power and hoped to settle the matter without condemnation. He said the authority needed the easement now to keep moving on the massive expansion and upgrading of the sewer plant that is under way.

O’Hagan said later that the dispute on language revolved around the condominium association’s attempt to get the authority to indemnify the work, meaning that if some damage is done the authority would be responsible to pay for it.

"Our position is that that’s not related," he said, explaining that if any damage should occur, the condominium association can take separate action on it.

Gianforte said the easement runs along a grassy area. He said the authority would dig it up to lay the conduit, then restore it to its present condition.

Gianforte said the original electrical conduit, along with a force main that brings sewage from a pumping station on Meadow Avenue to the treatment plant, were laid in the paper street/public right of way 30 years ago when the plant was first built. A paper street is a street laid out by a municipality, but is not built.

O’Hagan said the sewer authority didn’t have to pay anything to lay the conduit and forced main in the public right of way, but did have to pay for an easement over a small part of Sands Point North property that those facilities pass through. He said he didn’t know how much was paid for that easement.

O’Hagan said the TRWRA was paying for a new easement now not just to be good neighbors, but because it was better for the conduit to be laid in the new location.

Gianforte later explained there wasn’t enough room in the existing public right of way to lay the new conduit. He said that there are physical constraints which make acquiring a new easement a better option than following the existing easement. He noted that, among other problems, the new conduit would have to go under the existing forced main at one point. According to Gianforte, the old conduit will be abandoned after the new conduit is installed.

In other action, Ward V. Coles Jr., one of the Oceanport representatives on the authority, asked Gianforte if he had made any further inquiries about erecting windmills on the sewer plant property to save money on energy.

Gianforte said he had not taken any action and would need the direction of the board to do so.

Baxter, the chairman, told Coles, "I don’t think we’re going to go in that direction."

Coles then suggested looking into the reuse of the treated water that the authority discharges into the ocean.

Authority member William Baarck advised him that the state Board of Public Utilities, which regulates the water supply, said it’s likely that there would never be any direct reuse of treated water for the public water supply.

When the meeting was opened to the public, Paul Sgro, of Patricia Court, a street near the sewer plant, urged that when the construction is completed, the authority consider planting bamboo to cover it from the sight of neighbors.

Baxter replied that bamboo is great, and looks nice, but the downside is that it’s very aggressive and takes over everything.

Sgro contended that bamboo can be controlled by using plastic to cover the ground around it, then running a lawn mower over what persists.

He suggested selecting a variety of bamboo that grows 25 feet high to be planted atop the berm that will be built around the plant’s exterior.

Baxter told him to make an appointment with Gianforte to discuss it.

The TRWRA also welcomed its newest member, Thomas B. (Burt) Barham. Barham was appointed by the Monmouth Beach Commission as one of the borough’s two representatives on the authority, replacing Carmine T. Perrapato, who resigned because he was moving to Florida.

Baxter named him chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee, taking over where Perrapato left off, until reorganization in the new year.