Time for Public Comment
In an editorial on November 1 ,the “Exeter News-Letter” (ENL) commented that it is now time for the public to be allowed to comment on the proposal to allow Stratham to tie into Exeter’s water and sewerage treatment systems. In my opinion, this move is overdue as discussions have been underway for some time and it is important to hear what the public thinks before any informal agreements are made that could affect Exeter residents.
The ENL also pointed out that an economic impact study should be done to fully disclose to Exeter residents the effects on our town businesses and industrial/commercial development the proposed tie-in could have. The Exeter Board of Selectmen approved this study and arrangements ha been made with UNH to have an intern conduct this study. Why has it not been done or even started? Perhaps it is because Selectman Chair Don Clement feels it is “silly” (his word) to think Gateway development will affect Exeter in any negative way.
Also unresolved is the issue of whether our sewerage treatment plant has enough excess capacity to permit the tie-in. The engineering study and actual readings taken at the plant are in conflict and the latter raises the serious question of available capacity. Should we not be preserving some capacity for future development in Exeter, say, on Epping Road?
While $8 to $12 million is being touted as money Exeter would receive over a twenty-year period, what is included in these numbers? Selectman Chair David Canada (Stratham) at the beginning said that providing Exeter with property tax relief was not on the table. So, is Exeter receiving any money for the value the tie-in offers Stratham? How big would the contribution from Stratham be toward the estimated $40 million for upgrading the treatment plant to meet the new EPA nitrogen requirements? There are those in Town government who are pushing their own agenda of regionalization. Is that a driving force to the exclusion of what is best for Exeter? Who is looking out for Exeter residents?
There are plenty of questions that need answering before we proceed further with discussions with Stratham. Exeter residents and particularly ratepayers need to have a voice in this matter now.