Watkins hires engineering firm
WATKINS GLEN—At their regular meeting held on Monday, Oct. 1, the village board of Watkins Glen voted to approve hiring the engineering firm of Barton & Lajuidice to assist the village in complying with a Department of Environmental Conservation consent order relating to issues with the village’s waste water treatment plant. For a cost of $50,000, the firm will work closely with treatment plant supervisor Bart Crary to help ensure that the deadlines set out in the DEC order are met along with the final completion date in 2016.
As outlined by Mayor Mark Swinnerton, the services provided by Barton & Lajuidice will include a ground water gauge program, an inflow program, smoke testing, night time monitoring, rain event monitoring and manhole inspections, among other things. “[Inflow and infiltration] has been a chronic problem for the village,” said Swinnerton, adding that the village is, “in a position now where we have to address this issue.” Inflow and infiltration, or I & I, occurs when storm water or ground water enters into the sanitary sewer system through compromised pipes or other flaws in the system. Trustee Paul Clifford reminded the public that even if a new waste water treatment plant is constructed, the money will still have to be spent to correct the I & I problem.
Crary explained to the board that smoke testing had been occurring over the last few weeks, and as far as the DEC consent order goes, “we are already ahead of this schedule.” He added that the more time he spends on testing the intake system the more he is taking from his operational duties at the plant itself.
Swinnerton responded. “I don’t think we have the resources to get this done in the time frame we have set for ourselves.” Barton & Lajuidice had proposed a “self help” option for $32,000 where they would train the existing treatment plant employees to conduct the programs and testing on their own. Trustee Scott Gibson expressed his thought that if all the time spent by village employees to train and then implement the programs was added up hourly it may very well be cheaper to pay the extra $18,000 for Barton & Lajuidice to handle the project. With that the board voted to approve hiring the firm at the $50,000 rate.
In other business:
• Code Enforcement Officer Gordon Wright appeared before the board to address issues that were raised at the prior meeting regarding property conditions, to explain the history of zoning, building codes and nuisance abatement in the village and to talk about his role in enforcing those regulations. Wright indicated that if a resident has a concern about a specific issue at a property within the village, they should write him a brief description of the problem, the property address and their name. Wright said that if he gets a complaint he will check it out, “every time I get a complaint, I do my job and it gets remedied.” He urged the village board not to attempt to enact stricter regulations as they may not be upheld if challenged, and also because the current process for handling nuisance abatement works if residents take the time to inform him of their concerns.
The code enforcement office is located at 910 S. Decatur Street in the village of Watkins Glen.
• The board voted to authorize Mayor Swinnerton to add his signature to a letter from New York elected officials to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to further investigate the effects of hydraulic fracturing before allowing it to occur in New York.
Trustee Gibson pointed out, “this is not an anti- or pro-fracking request, it is simply a request to gain more information.”
The letter, which has been signed by 442 officials in 52 counties, requests a comprehensive health impact statement of the entire shale gas extraction process, a revised and properly thorough analysis that considers all potentially negative socioeconomic impacts, and a revised study of cumulative impacts. The letter further asks that the moratorium on fracking be maintained until these studies are completed and made available for public comment. The board did not take an official stance on fracking itself, only to add the village to the above described letter requesting further investigation.
The next regular village board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.