First totally green-technology sewer project in NYS gets off the ground

NAPLES — Naples will be the last village in Ontario County to get a public sewer system — and will sport the first totally green-technology sewage treatment plant in New York state.

Dozens of people who included plenty of politicians and business owners gathered Monday for a groundbreaking at the site where the plant will be built north of Ontario Street in the village.

“It’s a long-time coming,” said Mayor Brian Schenk. Discussions surrounding need for public sewer began more than 30 years ago. Naples Creek is significant as a trout spawning stream and it empties into Canandaigua Lake, which is a drinking water source for thousands of people. Along with environmental concerns, lack of public sewer also discouraged new business.

Over the past decades four engineering reports and funding plans were completed with the first three failing to receive public support, according to village officials. Now, after more than six years of planning and structuring funding, the project is ready to go.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, who was once supervisor for the town of Richmond, recalled controversy and other obstacles Richmond faced in trying to get its sewer project off the ground. “It takes true leadership to fight your way through this,” Kolb said. “Naples has done a phenomenal job...Well done.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, mentioned the environmental benefit in protecting the watershed and preserving the region for outdoor recreation.

Naples business owner Steve Richards, who owns senior housing in the village, said there’s a “waiting list of people wanting to come to Naples.” A public sewer system will now encourage them, he said.

Town Supervisor Tamara Hicks and others remarked that the sewer system will boost economic development along with increasing property values and playing a key role in protecting the watershed. “We look forward to a brighter future,” Hicks said.

State Sen Rich Funke, R-Perinton, said he is proud to have worked with village officials and others in promoting the project that he considers one of the most important accomplishments during his time in the Senate.

About 66 percent of the village will be covered in this first phase of the project, connecting customers along Main Street within the village boundary as well as a number of properties on streets connected to Main. This section should be online next summer, with a goal of connecting every property in the village with no pause in construction so the entire village is on board in 2021.

Estimated to cost just under $11 million, the project initially received a $4.25 million state grant and additional monies in the form of grants and zero-interest loans to pay for sewer infrastructure. The cost of connecting properties to the system is included in the project cost. Schenk said Monday the project cost will also cover the expense of abandoning septic systems.

The mayor praised all those who played a role in propelling the project forward. He specifically thanked former village trustee, Shirley Piccarreto. Schenk said Piccarreto “wouldn’t take no for an answer” after failed attempts to move the project along.

The wastewater treatment plant, Algaewheel developed by Onewater, is designed much like a greenhouse and will not produce foul odor. The plant will use daylight to power a self-regulating system that requires little energy, staff or complex controls. The plant will be expandable to handle more volume as customers are added in future phases of the project.

Construction is expected to take about two months. Village staff will be trained and licensed in operating the system, which will be largely self-sufficient.