Dredging to begin in Secretary marina

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SECRETARY — All systems are “go” in Secretary to begin dredging the town’s marina and to complete the design and engineering phase of the new Twin Cities Wastewater Treatment Plant. But the green light has turned red for the moment.

At the Sept. 1 commission meeting Mayor Susan Dukes explained that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will not issue a dredging permit until more detailed information is submitted. The requirements for sludge disposal are stringent. Last year Dorchester County approved the use of its Beulah landfill for the dredged sludge contingent on approval by the MDE.

DNR Project Administrators, Fred Bedell and Sandi Pepe joined consulting engineer Charles Emory, Mayor Dukes, and Commissioner William Lauck on May 4 to discuss the town’s marina facelift. MDE is holding up the permit for paperwork describing a detailed “chain of command” for disposal of the dredge spoils.

According to Mayor Dukes, the agency requires paperwork covering who is doing what from the moment the spoil is picked up until the time it is disposed of at the landfill. The truck used, the driver’s credentials, the route planned, and every detail in between must be documented ahead of time. “The money is in place for the project,” said Ms. Dukes, and the DNR representatives are working with the MDE to supply the information.

The treatment plant project faces a different problem but the issue again involves the MDE. ARRO Consulting, the engineering design firm that provides expertise to the town in meeting federal and state requirements, delivered the Phase I design portion last year. When the town submitted bills for payment to ARRO, the MDE said it would only pay 37.85 percent of the charges. The agreement in December 2014 was 100 percent payment for Phase I, non-construction costs and 37.85 percent of construction costs with the balance of the multi-million dollar construction phase coming from federal and state grants.

In an interview with the Banner Commissioner Henry Short thinks it is a paperwork problem. He believes the approvals for Phase I and for Phase II “landed on the wrong desks.” The written commitments for reimbursement are readily available and the commissioners believe the issue will be resolved.

“We cannot complete the engineering and continue asking for construction bids” until the billing problem is ironed out, noted the Mayor. She said that help is also expected from State Senator Addie Eckardt and Gov. Hogan appointee Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. Mayor Dukes said the town has a letter from MDE that originally promised $319,000 for the design and engineering phase of the project but finalized at $310,000 with the town bearing $9,000 of the cost. A meeting with MDE, ARRO, and the town commission is slated for Sept. 9.

Commissioners voted to change lights on town-owned property to LED in an effort to lower electric bills. A proposal from Shore Energy said the initial cost to change lights is $7,134. A $3,534 rebate from Delmarva Power reduces the cost to $3,600.  After one year the changeover will have paid for itself, said the Mayor. There is a five year guarantee on the fixtures and a one year guarantee on labor with savings from reduced yearly energy costs. On the town hall alone, said Mr. Short, the savings are estimated at $151 per month.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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