Years ago, when the South and Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District was being developed all around the southern half of Chautauqua Lake, the hamlet of Ashville was overlooked.
The projected cost of the massive undertaking was skyrocketing, rising from $10 million to $75 million in only a few short years, and those figures aren't accounting for inflation. In the end, Ashville was deemed to be too sparsely populated to warrant a costly connection with the sewer network, and other measures were taken to get the project's cost under control.
Three decades later, President Obama and Congressional Democrats are throwing tens of billions of dollars at infrastructure projects across the county through the recently passed economic stimulus package to reinvigorate the nation's lumbering economy.
Sewage waste is processed at the South and Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District’s processing plant in Celoron. The plant is capable of handling excess capacity as district officials look to expand service into Ashville.
P-J photo by Patrick Fanelli
Sally Carlson, North Harmony town supervisor, only hopes some of that money finds its way to the South and Center Chautauqua Lake Sewer District so sewer service can be extended to Ashville residents.
''It's pie in the sky. Until you get the check in your hands, it doesn't mean a thing. But if you don't try, you never get it,'' Mrs. Carlson said Tuesday. ''And this certainly would benefit the area.''
According to the application for funding submitted by sewer district officials, the project would require the construction of 49,000 feet of pipeline into the hamlet of Ashville and the surrounding area. Almost 400 homes and buildings would be plugged into the system at a cost of $14 million, which district officials hope would come from the federal government.
If that project is approved, says Mrs. Carlson, it would greatly benefit Chautauqua Lake by reducing the amount of sewage that seeps out of septic tanks and finds its way into the watershed. It could also boost property values in Ashville and spur new development.
The construction project would also be labor intensive, fulfilling Obama's goal of creating jobs through infrastructure projects to breathe new life into the economy.
The project isn't entirely shovel-ready, says Christine Humphry, a sewer district official, at least not as shovel-ready as other projects for which the district is applying.
''The approach we took when we saw there might be funding for projects was we decided to gather up some projects here that haven't been done ... and go ahead and submit them,'' she said.
Other projects for which the district is applying are shovel-ready and could be considered more pressing, like the replacement of equipment that's been around since the district's sewage plant in Celoron was opened in the early 1980s.
Another project being considered would involve the construction of 67,500 feet of pipeline to service an additional 728 homes and buildings and link the network with the other sewer district that operates along the northern half of Chautauqua Lake.
This month, Chautauqua County Legislators are considering a bill that would allow the sewer district to spend $21,400 on engineering services related to the Ashville extension in hopes of securing additional money from Obama's economic stimulus package.
Nevertheless, Mrs. Carlson believes the Ashville extension and the north and south connection, at least for now, is little more than a pipe dream.
''We figured there was nothing to lose,'' Mrs. Carlson said. ''I'm guessing because neither project is shovel-ready, at this point if there is any hope for us, it's going to be further down the road.''