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Town wants to meet with park superintendents before taking sewer action

James Rada, Jr.
Thurmont Dispatch

(6/7) The Thurmont Town Commissioners are still considering cutting off Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park from the town’s sewer system, but first they want to meet publicly with the park superintendents.

The commissioners are considering the move to reduce strain on the system and hopefully gain more time to make needed sewer repairs. They are also considering it as a way to show the state and federal governments that the town needs help.

“I say we put a valve on it and shut if off now and say we’ve having some problems and you’re not giving us any money,” Commissioner Ron Terpko said during a recent town meeting.

“I don’t have a problem playing hardball, but I want to play legal hardball,” Mayor Martin Burns replied. This is because contractual obligations require the town to give the governments six years notice before cutting them off.

Removing the parks from the town system would reduce demand on the overtaxed system by about 600,000 gallons a quarter.

Commissioner Bill Blakeslee urged caution, saying, “I think it will be quite a shock to some of us the financial implications of shutting them off.”

The parks pay significantly higher water and sewer rates than town residents. The town’s water rate is $4.15 per 1000 gallons and the sewer rate is $5.95 per 1000 gallons. However, the parks pay $14.20 and $17.00 respectively.

Terpko said, “We’re in a real bad situation here and we’re not getting any help.” The commissioners have been frustrated with the fact that while the town has provided a service to the parks by allowing them on the system and the fact that the town is under a consent agreement with the Maryland Department of the Environment to fix the sewer system. Yet, when the commissioners seek government grant money to help with the system, it goes to other municipalities.

Commissioner Wayne Hooper suggested that the town meet first with the superintendents with both parks to let them know what the town is considering and whether they can do anything to help.

The commissioners agreed to invite the superintendents to a future meeting to discuss the situation.

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