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Cheshire May Take Over Private Water System

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town is considering taking over the private Hutchinson Water Co. system.
Selectman Robert Ciskowski asked the board on Tuesday to consider acquiring the South Cheshire water system that he thinks could be an asset to the community.
"I think there would be a real advantage if we opened up with negotiations and see if they would be willing to talk to us," Ciskowski said. "I would rather see the town take it than a private company."
The town received a letter from the water system owners in March offering it the water supply. The letter stated that the Hutchinson family was no longer interested in running the system that supplies more than 20 homes in the Hutchinson Acres development, which was established more than 50 years ago.
Town officials were initially hesitant to take the water system because they knew it had issues. The Water Department was not interested either.
Ciskowski said he anticipates development in that area and it is often cumbersome for wells to supply water to sprinklers that commercial or industrial operations need.
"New industrial or commercial are going to need sprinklers and if that is our industrial area it is not going to work very well," he said. "It is difficult with wells you have to have big storage areas that can’t freeze. If there is going to be growth in town it is going to be in that area."
Ciskowski said this was part of the reason why the Girards pulled out of a proposed marijuana retail facility at the former Country Charm.
Not only does he have concerns about the Hutchinson residents who are using a compromised system but thought that the town could also use the source as a backup supply.
If the town's wells go down, a pump will have to be placed in Cheshire Reservoir and a boil order will be announced.
Town Administrator Mark Webber added that it may be beneficial to reach back out to the Hutchinsons because if the system breaks it will be the town's problem.  
"When it fails it’s yours anyway," he said. "If they walk away or it fails [the Department of Environmental Protection] will tell you to take care of it." 
Ciskowski did not ask for a motion but rather requested the two other board members consider it before putting it to a vote.
In other business, the board scheduled a rent control hearing Saturday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m. to meet with Kraus and Hummel LLP, the law firm representing Morgan Management, which is looking to sell the Pine Valley Mobile Home Park.
The Board of Selectmen, sitting as the Rent Control Board, approved in 2016 a $7.20 monthly rent increase, $5.12 of which was to go toward repairing and repaving the park's roads that were torn up during the installation of a new septic system.
The roads have not been finished and the selectmen pressured Morgan Management to either pave the roads or reimburse the tenants. 
The letter the board received from Kraus and Hummel alleged that town officials were making such demands without asking for a rent control hearing.
Selectwoman Carol Francesconi said the letter was only to get their attention.
"They misread the letter," she said. "It accuses us of not following the law by not holding a rent control meeting that was not our intention. We just wanted an answer."
The selectmen said they would essentially send back the same letter and also provide the tenants with a copy.
Morgan Management is reportedly selling the park for $1.7 million. Francesconi said the board has not yet received notification that the mobile home park has been sold and has only have received verbal notification that the tenants do not want to purchase the park on their own.
Before closing, the board heard from resident Peter Traub, who said the tape grass seems to have returned to Cheshire Reservoir.
 "A biologist was here Monday and the bottom line is that he has to go back to the office and come back with a decision on what to do about this," Traub said. "Sounds like it is going to be bad news."
In 2016, the town had to bring in SOLitude Lake Management to clean up the lake with a rake type mechanism called a harvester.
The weeds were then hauled off by the Highway Department. 
The weeds create a fire hazard because they clog the Fire Department pumps and also give off a bad smell. 

Tags: drinking water,   mobile home park,   

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