Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Bail Out from This Financial Dilemma

We’ve got a bit of a problem at Granby Heights.
For years I assumed the odor was coming from one discrete cesspool, but, while walking my dog in the woods, I never did see a cesspool. It never occurred to me that the problem was bigger than that. Our septic system is a big one, and, as we’ve learned, it’s broken in several places. I’ve seen what looks like a manhole cover in the woods. The cover is caked brown and corroded and it’s propped a little sideways over a rim. But that could be part of a neighbor’s septic system because the dog path runs behind many houses on Route 116, and the nearest connection to the town sewer line is almost two miles away. That’s according to someone I talked to from SVE Associates, a firm that the Granby Heights Association has hired to help with the installation of a new system.
Enough of what I don’t know.
Residents of Granby Heights will have to choose -- not just for themselves, but for others -- whether the system will be replaced by having each of the 76 condos put out an all-at-once payment $16,000, or by having condo fees raised $100 a month for the next 20 years.
By asking us to make that choice, the Board is asking haves and have-nots to bicker about money, and then go on living together. I imagine that the have-nots are in the vast majority, and their votes will rule day, but it won’t dampen resentments stirred up during the debate.
And all this so we can poop in our own homes.
To say the least, the condo-fee option is more financially feasible to working families over the short term; over the long term, it adds $600,000 of principal to the cost of the project. I calculate that by the monthly condo-fee method, the new septic system will cost, before interest, $1.8 million. If everyone ponies up $16,000, it will cost $1.2 million.
The second scenario involves no interest, which means that as draconian as the $16,000 ``assessment’’ seems now, it will mean a savings of huge bucks over the long run.
Without the assessment, the association would have to take out a loan to pay for the work. To get authorization to borrow, the association needs a vote of at least two-thirds from condo owners. (I rent here.)
At any rate, on April 12 I put this on the MassLive.com Granby forum. I mentioned that the board has told us that the septic system is in imminent danger of failure. ``Then what? If it `fails,' will we be unable to take legally a dump?’’
Regarding the $16,000 assessment, I wrote,
``How do they expect anyone here to come up with that kind of money? And what happens if they don't get it? Will they throw those people out of the condos they own?’’

I said paying $100 a month is desirable because in 20 years, $100 will mean less, after inflation. What I failed to ponder was that the savings in this case may not equal $600,000 of principal, and the interest on that principal.
``Do you plan on living in Granby Heights 20 years from now?’’
I asked.
It wasn’t long before ``Nuts’’ wrote:
``Those were originally built as apartments and then they decided to sell them off as condos. If you wanted a real condo you should have purchased one at Pine Grove. The ole saying, pay me now or pay me later, applies here.''

To which, I replied:
``That's a `Nuts‘-y analysis. Actually, the fact that they were once apartments has nothing to do with it. The problem is that the place was open in 1973, and the kind of septic system it has now, which is smaller and much less expensive, no longer meets code. Hence we have to put in something more expensive.’’
Later the same day, MarkBail82 told me that he would post about the septic system problem on his blog. I replied and said that was OK by me.
Two days later I heard from ``bmax1390:’’
We have lived nearby for 12 years and every year the smell gets worse. We finally went to the board of health because the smell is sooo disgusting. We bought a house in Granby because we wanted fresh air and now every time it rains or it is humid out the smell is unbearable. I am sure it is a health issue for all of us living nearby. We don't even have family gatherings at our house in the summer because we are afraid they will smell the septic!!! IT NEEDS TO BE FIXED NOW not in the fall!!!

The gist of my replies to bmax1390 was that I doubt the new system will be installed in just a few months. ``It’s going to be a stinky summer,’’ I said in one message. ``We’ll see what the summer brings,’’ I said in another.
As of today, I have heard nothing more from Nuts.

1 comment:

Mark Santora said...

thanks for sharing
I thin everybody should come together & solve the issue

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