**** W. Wildwood Pursues Grant in Ongoing Sewer Replacements

**** W. Wildwood Pursues Grant in Ongoing Sewer Replacements

WEST WILDWOOD — The borough plans to use a USDA grant to cover nearly half the cost of replacing sewer lines on Maple Avenue.

Speaking at the commissioners’ Aug. 17 workshop meeting, Commissioner Joseph Segrest said he would like to put a bond ordinance in place for Maple Avenue in 2023. In April, the borough signed a conditional letter of acceptance of a $1,284,100 USDA Rural Development Grant, coupled with a low-interest loan for $1,591,000. A bond ordinance formalizing the funding agreement would most likely be introduced in February 2023, with the project taking place in late 2023 and 2024.

The Maple Avenue phase follows the completion of a similar project on Poplar Avenue and is part of an overall project to replace the 30 to 40-year-old sewer system across West Wildwood.

In 2020, the borough began replacing compromised sanitary sewer lines that allowed stormwater to leak inside. The groundwater intrusion had the borough paying Cape May County for up to six times the outflow it produced — totaling over $100,000 in excess charges. West Wildwood passed a $1.75 million bond to replace sanitary sewers on parts of Poplar and G Avenues. The terms were similar to the currently proposed bond for the Maple Avenue project, which will run from Arion to Neptune Avenues.

“We needed to get control of the excess flow,”Segrest said.

West Wildwood is a manmade island, created by filling the area with dredge materials from surrounding lagoons. Over the years, the material has been sinking and failing to support the sanitary sewer lines, with leaks forming mainly at the manholes.

The matter has grown progressively worse, with excess charges for outflow increasing 29 percent between 2020 and 2021. While neighboring communities of North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest saw an increase in outflow of a little over 13 percent over the last five years, West Wildwood’s flow has increased 38 percent during the same time frame.

Borough Clerk and Administrator Donna Frederick said the borough has 107 manholes, and many of them have been repaired or replaced.

“We are doing the worst ones first,” she said.

A map showing the progress is posted on the borough’s website.

Frederick said Maple Avenue is the third round of manhole repairs in the calendar year. She said engineers are currently working on bids for the project and anticipate breaking ground next month.

Bonding for the project comes with its own set of costs. Frederick said Triad Associates, a consultant working in conjunction with the USDA, is charging $79,000. Two other special services agreements include bond counsel for $15,000 and the borough auditor, which is charging $3,000 to help prepare the application. These fees, Frederick said, would be paid out of the USDA grant.

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