By JEFF MEYERS
---- — PERU — A new wastewater treatment system being installed for South Acres Mobile Home Park has opened the possibility for expansion by up to 70 new sites.
Construction began in August at the park on Route 22 south of Plattsburgh to replace the failing individual septic systems with a new public system into which all the lots will feed.
“This is a good example of how everyone has come together to save this beautiful park,” said owner Tam Phung. “This could have been another park closing because of major hardships, but everything looks nice for the future.”
When Phung purchased the park and surrounding land in 2006, he met with the Clinton County Health Department to discuss a possible expansion, but Health Department officials were concerned about the aging infrastructure of the existing lots.
“The park was 25 years old (at the time),” said John Kanoza, director of the Health Department’s Environmental Division. “Septic systems typically have a life span of 20 to 30 years, and we were starting to see systems failing at South Acres.”
The individual systems were set up so that every two lot owners fed into one septic tank and leach field. Kanoza advised Phung that the only feasible way to consider expansion at the park was to replace the failing systems with a community-wide treatment setup.
“The landowner then worked with engineers on a sand-filtered system with discharge into a nearby stream,” he said. “But that kind of system was not eligible for grant money, and the project was too expensive for the owner alone.”
Engineers developed a second design that included treatment and discharge into absorption beds at a nearby ground site where the discharge would be treated by naturally occurring microbes in the soil.
That plan was approved by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Clinton County Health Department in early 2012.
“There are two general parts (to the system),” Kanoza said. “Waste from individual homes flows into septic tanks (to remove solid materials), and then water flows back into the sanitary sewer and is pumped into the aeration field.”
A portion of the project focused on replacing septic tanks, which will allow better flow of the wastewater. Also, having one central system rather than the smaller individual systems will improve the overall life expectancy of the system, Kanoza said.
“At the end of the day, this is all about keeping the park going,” Phung said. “There have been several park closings in the area of late. We need to provide residents with an affordable place to live.”
Phung was able to procure funding through the New York Community Development Block Grant program with support from the Town of Peru, which was designated grant administrator for the project.
“We wanted to assist the owner in getting the grant money that is a large part of the sewer project at South Acres in order to save the affordable housing available there,” said Peru Town Supervisor Peter Glushko. “There was a danger that the park might close, as Shir-Cliff in Schuyler Falls did, because of septic-system problems.
“Because the owner did all the work and bore all the costs to plan the project and apply for the project grant, the work done came at no expense to the Town of Peru. The park is well-maintained and provides local families with a great environment to live and raise a family.”
Engineers are completing final work on the upgrade.
“They’ve done a great job,” Project Manager Joe Akey said of the work done by J. E. Sheehan Contractors. “This is a great project for this park and shows a great deal of cooperation from everyone involved.”
Phung would like to begin his expansion project next year, adding between 60 and 70 new sites to South Acres Park, but is still looking for additional financing sources to continue with his plans.
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