Even though residents didn't approve borrowing for upgrades to the village waterworks, the mayor says the work must still be done.
By a margin of only three votes, Naples voters decided against borrowing $1.7 million to filter water from the Eelpot and Blodgett reservoirs and make other improvements to the waterworks.
The project was shot down by a vote of 51 to 48.
Mayor Will Sherwood said he was disappointed in both the low voter turnout and the results.
"Everybody's made the assumption that ultimately people would go along with it," he said. "Unfortunately that didn't happen."
Now, Sherwood said he isn't sure exactly how to proceed.
The state mandate that Naples filters its water comes from an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that applies to all water sources susceptible to ground water contamination. Now, even though voters have turned down the project, the state could fine Naples and force the village to do the project anyway, making it even more costly.
"Any time you delay a major construction project, the cost of that project goes up through inflation," Sherwood said. "The easy thing to be done would have been to approve the funding."
Gary Schenk, a former mayor of Naples, said he voted against the project because of the cost.
"We need to do upgrades on the water mains no matter what, but maybe the other bells and whistles aren't necessary," he said.
Schenk said that if the project were slated to cost less than $500,000, voters would have approved it. He said the village should look for more federal and state funding to drive costs down for village residents.
"I'm pleased that the vote was no," he said. "It will come out much better for Naples and the board."
The village had the option of satisfying the mandate by drilling a well, but engineers said that would be too costly and instead suggested a sand filtration plant. The proposal also called for related improvements, such as improved security around the reservoirs.
The total cost of construction would have been $1.35 million, with another $142,000 allotted for unexpected costs, $145,000 for engineering and $60,000 for legal and administration fees. Bonded for 38 years, the project would have cost water costumers between $71 and $93 per year.
Now, Sherwood said he'll have to go back to the drawing board and get advice on how to proceed.
"The problem doesn't go away by virtue of the fact that the public has turned it down," he said.
Stephanie Bergeron can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 255, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.