By Alex Lippa
---- — PLAISTOW — It’s been labeled one of the biggest challenges facing the town: clean, public water.
Next month, voters will decide whether to spend $30,000 to study the feasibility of a public water supply.
They also will be asked to spend $400,000 from three separate accounts to extend a water line along Route 125 that feeds commercial sprinkler systems. Officials hope the move would spur economic growth.
The study would show whether the town could use that same water line to provide drinking water to residents and businesses.
“The intent is to look at piping that does traverse through the area on Route 125,” fire Chief John McArdle said. “If they can get potable water for the commercial area, this would bring in some businesses.”
Selectman Dan Poliquin said he hopes extending the line would lure more business.
“We are looking to excite redevelopment along Route 125,” Poliquin said. “Research and development has been a hindrance because we don’t have water and wastewater systems in place. We are looking at businesses that would create jobs and have long sustaining capabilities with people in this region.”
But it’s not just about business, Selectman John Sherman said.
“While our focus over the last few years has been along (Route) 125 to coincide with the road-widening projects, the water line also covers some residential neighborhoods as well,” he said. “This study would be used for looking at both the residential and commercial areas.”
He said water is one of the next crises facing the town.
“Water is a precious resource, with an ever-dwindling supply of clean water,” Sherman said. “The next resource crisis in our town, state and country will be protecting our water resources.”
Town officials want to see whether the line could tie in with one being installed for residents affected by the Beede Superfund site.
Selectmen voted, 4-1, to recommend the study.
Selectman Robert Gray was the sole dissenter.
“My opposition isn’t about studying water resources,” Gray said at the deliberative session. “My opposition is to the funding mechanism behind this. This water line mostly supports industrial and commercial bases in town. It passes by roughly only 145 residential properties. Only 5 percent of all residences would this possibly help down the road. If you wanted to do this study, you should do a special assessment on taxes. Talking to business leaders around town, they’d be more than happy to.”