AUGUSTA — The Greater Augusta Utility District is considering putting a one million gallon, roughly 100-foot diameter, 30-foot-tall concrete water and sewer overflow storage tank above ground on district property behind the city’s East Side Boat Landing.

City and district officials note there is sure to be concern about the appearance of the proposed tank given its close proximity to the boat landing, as well as its potential visibility from the Kennebec River and from the downtown area across the river that has been the focus of extensive redevelopment efforts in recent years.

The proposal is the district’s latest step in an ongoing, multi-million-dollar effort to install systems to prevent the overflow of sewage into the river during major rainstorms. The goal for adding the new tank to the district’s existing infrastructure, according to GAUD Superintendent Brian Tarbuck, would be to catch overflow during heavy rainfall when so much stormwater, combined with sewage, enters into the treatment system that it becomes unable to treat it all.

The tank during such storms would collect combined stormwater and untreated sewage that might otherwise overflow into the river. Once the storm subsides and the plant is functioning normally, the fluid would be released from the tank and sent to the treatment plant where it would be treated.

Tarbuck said doing an above ground tank would save the district, and its ratepayers, millions of dollars. Underground tanks cost around $5 a gallon to build, while an above ground tank could possibly be built for as little as $1 a gallon, he said.

But he recognizes the proposal, which is still early in the design stage, would also bring aesthetic concerns.

“What it’s going to look like is what is going to be on the tip of most folk’s tongues,” Tarbuck said. “We’re certainly sensitive to that. We’re hopeful we can find a way to put a tank in there that’d be amenable to all parties. We’d be foolish to think we could put a tank in there and nobody would notice.”

Tarbuck said the district has hired a firm to do renderings of what such a tank would look like so people can envision its appearance, including from the downtown waterfront area across the river.

He said it would be concrete, and could thus be painted to help it blend in, potentially with a piece of art.

City councilors are scheduled to discuss the proposal with Tarbuck at their 6:30 p.m. meeting Thursday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

City Manager William Bridgeo also said the appearance of the tank would be a concern.

“The obvious concern would be what it’s going to look like,” Bridgeo said of the proposed tank, which would sit between the city boat landing and Arsenal Street on land the utility district already owns in the area under Memorial Bridge.

Bridgeo said the Planning Board would review the proposal at some point, but the city may not be able to reject the proposal.

In 2012 and 2013, the utilities district installed two massive, 670-foot-long storage tanks under Mill Park to collect combined sewer overflow on the west side of the river. The district also has another underground storage tank under a portion of the Kennebec River Rail Trail. The proposed new tank would be the last major piece of infrastructure needed to prevent most overflows and be in compliance with state Department of Environmental Protection requirements regarding overflows.

Councilors are also scheduled to discuss two proposals, which are related to each other, to help the Augusta Housing Authority build a new 34-unit housing complex on a portion of the city-owned former Statler mill site.

Several neighbors of the proposed development site, which would be accessible through a residential neighborhood on dead-end Maple Street, have spoken against it, saying it would bring additional traffic and crime to their neighborhood.

City councilors will consider whether to lease a roughly two-acre portion of the city-owned, approximately 20-acre property, which the city has renamed Kennebec Lockes in hopes of encouraging development there, to the housing authority to build the proposed housing complex.

Councilors are also scheduled to discuss striking a tax increment financing, or TIF, deal with the housing authority to help with its proposed development. The developer and the housing authority director both said the project on the former mill site probably would not happen without a TIF agreement with the city to help finance it.

The property is not taxed now because it is owned by the city, nor would the housing authority, a nonprofit corporation, normally be charged property taxes if it owned the property. However, a TIF is necessary, developer Kevin Bunker said Friday, both to help bring funding for the project and to help an application for tax credits score well enough to be selected in a highly competitive process for affordable housing projects.

The housing authority would form a for-profit entity for the project, to be eligible for tax credits, then seek to sell those tax credits to provide around $4.7 million of the estimated $6 million project cost.

Councilors on the city’s TIF review committee voted 2-0 Friday afternoon to recommend the project be granted a TIF.

The proposed TIF would return the property taxes that would be paid on the new taxable value of the project for 30 years.

Keith Luke, the city’s deputy development director, said the taxable value of the project when completed would be about $2.2 million. Over the 30 years of the TIF, it is projected to return about $1 million to the housing authority, most of which Bunker said would help cover the operating costs of the housing development, which would have 34 units in six townhouse-style buildings on an upper, back portion of the site.

Luke noted the city did similar TIF deals to assist in the redevelopment of the former Hodgkins Middle School and Cony flatiron buildings into senior housing.

The development, Bartlett said, is meant to provide affordable housing for working people.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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