Dear Citizens of Union Springs…
Last February we had 3 days in a row of 60-70 degree days. And then we got 30+ more inches of snow in March.
Operating and maintaining a Village is like the weather. Some great days, some crappy days, but for the most part our days are nice and give us hope.
I will be writing about a few projects over the next couple of weeks covering water/fire hydrants, the DOT project (NYS solution to fixing our flooding problems), Solar and LED street lights, changes to Frontenac Park, the LWRP process, the illegal casino and anything else I can think of, or that you ask about.
So let me start with the most visible one, 14 bagged hydrants.
This project is of course about more than the bright yellow bags. It is the start of a critical infrastructure fix. As it is in most of the country, we have an aging and brittle infrastructure. This includes old water pipes and valves, non-working hydrants, sidewalks that are in need of repair or don’t exist (as well as the mid 1800’s slate which are often slippery and dangerous) and many other less visible problems.
Our original main water lines were put in in 1938. Others have been added over the years as the Village has seen need and/or expanded. Our fire hydrant stock is similar, with the oldest 30+ (out of 54) being installed in the 1950’s. Even with constant attention and maintenance, these will eventually fail.
The Village has had multiple meeting with the MRB Group engineer and we believe the best way to fix and provide for long term access, is to implement a multiple insertion valve system (32 different shut off stations). This will allow us to segment out different sections of water lines without having to shut down the whole Village and associated Town water delivery systems.
We will start with insertion valves nearest the bagged hydrants and replace them by shutting down and controlling small sections. After the initial 14 hydrants are replaced we will continue to set in insertion valves to replace an additional 18 of the oldest working hydrants. With the 4 new ones we replaced in 2016-2017, we will then have about 40 “new” hydrants in our village.
We are also implementing a work program in our DPW to regularly exercise all of the hydrants (54) in the village. And 20% of the hydrants will be flow tested each year per ISO standards.
The insertion valves will also allow us to better maintain our existing water supply and flow, and fix other leaks as they happen without risk of shutting down the whole system.
All of this comes with a cost! We have been working diligently to try to get supplemental Clean Water funding as the total project cost is over $750,000. and our goal is to “git-r-done” this summer.
Coming soon, I will update everyone as best I can on the NYS DOT flood mitigation project.
Mayor Bud Shattuck
Regarding the bagged fire hydrants…
I feel that I owe the residents of the Village of Union Springs a better explanation than the one that was published in the Auburn Citizen.
While I was out of state, I received a call from a reporter at the Citizen. I can assure you that in the quite long conversation we had that I went into a great deal more detail than, apparently, their print space would allow. This may be a bit long but I will attempt to clarify the information I relayed to said reporter, and more.
I started with the best historical information that I could provide. I also pointed out that I have only been Mayor for 1 year and 7 months. As the mayor I inherited all of the wonderful aspects and assets of our charming community. I also got the warts. And as I have stated in other writings, we have an aging infrastructure which includes our municipally owned hydrants. I don’t have the details (and wouldn’t have given names), but I have to believe that the people who gave me the information as to how our hydrant system got to where it is today, are credible.
In mid-2016 I was told that our hydrants situation was a combination of not knowing which hydrants worked and of the fact that our hydrants hadn’t been exercised in years (making it harder to prioritize repair/replacement). This was a surprise to me as I have lived in small villages/towns all of my life and I know how, and by who, the hydrants are exercised. The information that I received at that time was there had been a previous dispute between the Village and the Springport Fire Department and that the fire department stopped exercising the hydrants within the village. I have been told a couple of versions as to why, but it didn’t matter as we as a Village are responsible as owners of the water supply and in this case the hydrants.
I was both naïve and did not ask how we could make the exercising process work without the cooperation of the fire department. But we did start working on an aggressive schedule of replacement. As there had been few hydrant replacements in the recent years before I had joined the Board, we decided that swapping 3 hydrants out a year would be a good start. Please remember that each hydrant replacement costs over $3000 each and involves our whole Public Works crew as well as the shutting down of some water service. Each also involves coordinating the filling of our municipal water towers and the work takes the better part of a full day. We scheduled and budgeted for this process to start in 2017, again within my first full year.
And then there was a fire at the SDA Academy!
I did not go to the fire, but I received many reports from both the SDA staff and our Village Code Officer. The Village also offered whatever help we could to their community. I have never been a firefighter so I let the local volunteers and professionals do their job. Unfortunately there was a village hydrant near the fire that they could not make operational. And while they stated that it did not cause major problems in the context of the fire suppression itself, it certainly raised red flags for all of us.
This started a domino effect in how we as a Village determined our next move(s) in our long range plans. It apparently triggered a new plan for the Fire Department also. They (unknown to me) began exercising our hydrants starting on the north end of the village. Again out of the first three they worked on, there was one that was inoperable, and they stopped there. The Chief also sent an email asking what steps we were taking to resolve these problems. We responded by replacing the unit across from the High School and proceeded to exercise (or attempt to) all of the remaining hydrants, throughout the village. We found 14 that we were not able to open, or were not yet comfortable attempting to force open.
We cataloged them all in a list and forwarded that to the Chief. Because not everyone could identify which ones we could not open, he suggested we put an out-of-order bag over each of the 14, which we did.
That is the story of the bagged hydrants. But there is more. There are 54 hydrants within the Village. Of the 14 that are bagged we know that 4 are totally inoperable. There are 10 which we will slowly work to pry open and hopefully not break. Of these all of the 10 may work or maybe only some of them. The problem is of opening one which then cannot be closed.
And lastly we have been working with our Engineers (MRB Group) to come up with a short term and long term plan for all of our earlier mentioned infrastructure. That is Water, Sewer, Streets, Equipment, Sidewalks and Hydrants. As I have said before this will be a long project and an expensive one. We are working on a quicker fix for the hydrants that include putting insertion vales as shut offs for all of our aging and problem units. Some of them are older models and should be replaced with newer, more efficient ones.
Now let me address the article in the Citizen. The most important problem that I had with it was the title. There is no conflict between the Chief and myself. We may have conflicting views of the solution and timelines, but as I do not personally know the Chief there can be no “conflict”. I respect the work that our (and all) of the volunteer fire department do. And I (we) believe that safety is a priority. Newspapers write headline to sell papers. In this case I gave the Citizen much of what I have written here and as I mentioned before, maybe they didn’t have room. But their article left out enough to support the headline and I find that disingenuous.
Village of Union Springs
There is a Public Hearing on Nov. 21, 2017 @ 6:05pm at the Village Office re: Rental Properties.
Many people in Union Springs rent their homes/camps out. Very seldom, but sometimes this causes problems with excessive noise, traffic, encroachment, etc. As a community without a police force we often have to find alternative ways to regulate problems. As such, we are seeking to enact a Rental Registry.
The Village understands the value of lakefront and other rental properties. Our hope is not to make a punitive regulation, but to assure everyone in our community that should there be a problem, (one time or on-going) that there is a responsible person locally to take care of the complaint. And to do this in a timely manner.
Our registry has no cost at this time. It is simply to have a name and contact number for each rental property. However, if we do not get responsible voluntary compliance, rest assured the Village will look at other ways to protect our citizens from problem property owners/renters.
While this rental registry is not specifically about Springport Cove, it is a direct result of public concern in that area.
Mayor Bud Shattuck