Published May 5, 2021
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The fate of the Lynnfield Center Water District’s $9.8 capital improvement project will be decided by ratepayers during the Annual District Meeting on Monday, May 10, beginning at 6 p.m. at Lynnfield High School’s front entrance.
In the event of rain, the Annual District Meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 11, beginning at 6 p.m. at the high school’s front entrance.
While Town Meeting has a quorum requirement, there is no quorum for LCWD’s Annual District Meeting. Ratepayers will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing during the Annual and Special District Meetings on May 10.
In order to address the district’s water quality and water quantity issues, LCWD officials have recommended a three-component plan that involves upgrading the district’s existing infrastructure as well as getting supplemental water from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) via Wakefield.
Article 18 will ask ratepayers to approve constructing a $6.3 million greensand filter water treatment plant at the Glen Drive station. The new plant will be used to treat iron and manganese, which LCWD officials have attributed to the discolored water problems that have impacted residents living near the North Reading line.
If ratepayers approve the greensand filter treatment plant project, it will be similar to the one that was built at the Phillips Road station in the 1990s.
Article 19 will ask ratepayers to authorize the LCWD to enter into a 20-year agreement with the town of Wakefield for the purpose of receiving supplemental water from the MWRA. The supplemental water project involves connecting the Wakefield and LCWD systems at the Main Street and Bay State Road intersection. The cost to connect with Wakefield totals $1.6 million. This project also includes a $1.5 million entry fee to join the MWRA as well as $400,000 for permitting costs.
LCWD Superintendent John Scenna noted that the supplemental water project will improve fire suppression in addition to improving water quantity. The LCWD was forced to implement Level 5 restrictions last summer due to drought conditions as well as increased demand due to the large number of people staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Level 5 restrictions prohibited the use of all non-essential water in order to restore potential fire suppression demands to proper operating levels.
“The project creates sustainability for fire suppression in periods of high demand,” said Scenna in an interview with the Villager.
Scenna urged ratepayers to approve Articles 18 and 19.
“We have made a 100 percent commitment since I started working for the district to look at all of the different options,” said Scenna. “We confirmed the data and let the data drive our decisions. We feel that we put forward the most efficient project that addresses both existing challenges and the long-term sustainability of the system. The team feels that the projects capitalize on the existing strengths of the infrastructure and resources in place, and supplements them by diversifying the district’s water supply sources.”
LCWD Board of Water Commissioners Chairman Joseph T. Maney agreed.
“Since elected, all the current members of our board have made it a top priority to create a system that is sustainable, safe, equitable and meets the needs of its customers,” stated Maney in an email. “We have set forth on a process that was transparent and one that studied several options and ideas in order to make sure we put forth a project that was efficient, cost effective and provided the most return on investment. Our board fully and unanimously endorses this, and we hope that LCWD customers will come out and fully support it as well. This is their system, and we hope there is overwhelming support to vote in favor of these projects that will address our collective needs.”
The LCWD capital improvement project also entails bringing Station 1 back into service this summer, which would be funded through the district’s operating budget.
If Articles 18 and 19 get approved, LCWD officials anticipate the projects would result in an average water bill increase of $200.
“That is not an immediate increase,” said Scenna at a recent Water Commissioners meeting. “These increases should occur over multiple years to smooth out the increase on customers and avoid rate shock. The rates have been set for this fiscal year.”
If both projects move forward, they would be completed by 2023.
In addition to the $9.8 million LCWD capital improvement project, ratepayers will be asked to vote on a number of articles during the Special District and Annual District Meetings on May 10.
Ratepayers will be asked to vote for three candidates running for LCWD positions during the Annual District Meeting, including a contested race for treasurer. Incumbent Treasurer James Alexander is running against New Meadow Road resident Shannan Gilmartin Cuddy.
Alexander, who is a Lynnfield Fire Department captain, has served as the LCWD’s treasurer since November 2000.
“As treasurer of the water district, it is my responsibility to ensure that finances are maintained in accordance with state and federal regulation,” stated Alexander on his resume. “In this position, I interface with town administration, auditors, the state Department of Revenue personnel and provide reports to the Board of Water Commissioners at publicly held meetings. Budget preparation, revenue projections, setting the tax rate for the district, certification of Free Cash and familiarization with municipal accounting are skills I posses in the successful performance in this position.”
Cuddy works as the lead partner for The MFA Companies’ state and local tax services practice. She has also worked for public accounting firms KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernest & Young. She has lived in town for the past 14 years, and is the current director of Lynnfield Youth Field Hockey. She is also a youth field hockey coach and has developed budgets for the program. Cuddy has two sons attending Lynnfield Middle School.
“I feel that my education, work experience and dedication to the town of Lynnfield make me a strong candidate for this role and look forward to the opportunity to work with the LCWD and everyone associated with it,” Cuddy stated in a cover letter sent to LCWD Clerk Tim Doyle. “I am a licensed attorney in Massachusetts, and have worked in state and local tax consulting for 23 years, assisting companies to negotiate with state agencies in becoming compliant with their state and local tax obligations. My efforts have allowed states and localities to receives tens of millions of dollars of tax revenues that they may not have otherwise received.”
In addition to the LCWD treasurer race, Maney and Doyle are running unopposed for water commissioner and clerk respectively.
The 19-article Annual District Meeting warrant also includes a vote on the LCWD’s proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, totaling $2,481,139. Article 17 will ask ratepayers to approve allocating funds in order to upgrade and rehabilitate the water tanks located on Knoll Road and Wing Road.
The Special District Meeting that will be held before the Annual Meeting includes four articles, three of which seek to make adjusts to the LCWD’s existing FY21 budget.