Town Meeting urges cancellation of Swifts Beach sewer replacement

Apr 24, 2023

Town Meeting unanimously voted on Monday, April 24 to encourage the town to terminate its contract with an outside firm to replace the sewer line beneath the Swifts Beach neighborhood. 

At last spring’s Town Meeting, voters approved $3 million for replacing Swifts Beach’s old gravity sewer system with a low-pressure system, which would require sewage-grinding pumps to be installed in 130 homes at the homeowners’ expense. 

Petitioner Jean Welch said that the Sewer Commission did not fully explain to homeowners how much of the cost of the pumps they would have to cover. Welch was under the impression that a yes vote would force the town to cancel the contract and allow the sewer line to be repaired rather than replaced. 

However, Town Counsel Richard Bowen explained that the vote could not terminate the contract on its own, because last spring’s Town Meeting already approved it. Instead, the vote was a way for residents to express their displeasure with the contract and recommend a course of action for the Sewer Commission. 

The Sewer Commission voted in February to delay the start of the project until after Labor Day.

Former Select Board member Peter Teitelbaum said that the Sewer Commission “needs to take a step back” and look at how the town will pay for the sewer fixes needed. 

“We’ve got a failing sewer system that’s deep in water,” Teitelbaum said. “I don’t know how that’s possible to sustain.”

Local resident Joseph Vendetti said that efforts to replace the sewer system are backed by “misinformation.” He said the sewer system in Swifts Beach can be repaired by a competent contractor, and that the town needs to maintain the sewer system that residents already paid for.