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Clarksburg Selectmen Unsure of Water Line Ownership
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
09:28PM / Wednesday, January 09, 2013
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The Clarksburg Selectmen are hoping to get some of the $10 million leftover federal hazard mitigation money to fix some roads and drainage.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — A School Street resident has been stymied in an attempt to hook into the water lines on Houghton Street because officials aren't sure who actually owns them.

Robert Young of 75 School St. appeared before the Selectmen on Wednesday night to ask permission to tap into the line after getting information from North Adams.  

"I was told by the city I needed a permit to hook up," said Young. A number of lines were run through the neighborhood 40 years ago but the prior owners had not hooked into the system. Young said the house has a shallow well in the basement.

But Chairman Carl McKinney said he didn't believe the water line on Houghton was owned by the town.

"I don't feel comfortable authorizing this because I don't think it's under the town's domain," he said. The main line, McKinney thought, had been installed by a cooperative of neighbors on Houghton and North Eagle streets. A fund had been established to maintain the lines.

" ... Some of these pipes were put in at midnight," he said. "We mapped it to the best of our ability but we're not sure where all the water lines are."

According to reports at the time, some 25 residences had petitioned the North Adams City Council to extend the water main on the city's sides of Houghton and North Eagle into Clarksburg. The council approved the idea in 1962, with the caveat that Clarksburg carry the cost. It's not clear if the town did; a spat over water fees between the town and city a dozen years later refers to the Houghton line being installed by "some residents of the neighborhood."

McKinney thought there may be a hook up fee from the cooperative; in any case, Young would be responsible for installing the line to the main and paying for restoring the road.

"I don't have any problem with this," said McKinney. "As along as we have the powers that be in control, they have to make the decision."

Officials said they would find out who was administering the lines and Young could work with Town Administrator Thomas Webb. Young joked that if they couldn't find anyone, he'd be happy to give himself permission.

The East Road Bridge opened on Dec. 20.

In other business, the board was informed that East Road was open and provided with a punch list of items to complete the project. The road opened a couple weeks ago after the guardrails were installed. Webb said the punch list items and final paving would be completed by May 15, as contracted with Maxymillian.

"We've got a lot of happy people," said Selectwoman Lily Kuzia, referring the road's closure over the past year.

The Finance Committee authorized the expenditure of $1,025.50 for the Berkshire Health Alliance for the next six months. The contract covers public health testing and coordination such as for outbreaks such as influenza that the Board of Health is not qualified to deal with. The annual cost of $2,051 to contine with the alliance will be decided at town meeting.

Webb informed the board that some $10 million in federal hazard mitigation grant funds is available. The town would have to match any amount 25 percent, probably in in-kind services. Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut had compiled a list of problem areas for the application, including culverts and drainage.

"There are some things here that look like they would fall into the program," said Webb.

McKinney ask if West Road was on the list.

"The east side of West Road is collapsing," he said. "My concern is that West Road is just going to fall off the side of the hill."

Webb said the scope of the application will likely be narrowed down in an effort to get the funding. He also said the town would probably have to finish the hazardous mitigation planning with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to get the grant.

The board also approved that part-time, intermittent or consultant professionals performing services for the Northern Berkshire Industrial Park and Development Corp. be considered "special municipal employees" for payment, according to state law. The town will not be required to pay any professionals hired by another municipality, said McKinney.

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