In a follow-up to my blog on the water main break and emergency protocol, I find now is a good time to discuss other long term issues that the Village faces.
As you hear from President Trump, Gov. Cuomo and all of our Federal and State officials, the United States as a whole has aging infrastructure. The Village of Union Springs has this same problem. That means water, sewer, streets, sidewalks, etc. may be in need of repair or replacement at any time. The Village Trustees and all of the Village staff have been having frank discussions about the cost and time frames for making sure the critical needs of our community infrastructure gets the attention it deserves.
I must be upfront about the costs. Major repair/replacement projects such as the water valves, fire hydrants and sewer lines will be expensive. For anyone who has heard me talk about these problems or attended one of our board meetings, then my projections of $10-$20, million dollars over a ten year period may not be a surprise. That being said not everything is a critical need and ten years is a long time. Some repairs will not be done in my lifetime, others need immediate attention.
Let me talk first about what you can see. The village owns (54) fire hydrants. The hydrants have been installed various times by need and water supply. Some are beyond their useful life and no repair or replacement parts exist. Other may or may not have proper shut offs. The Village Department of Public Works (DPW) has opened or tried to open and operate all of our hydrants. In some cases this was not possible or feasible. As you may note we have “bagged” those hydrants for now. Over the past fifteen months we have replaced four hydrants as part of a program to get all of them working properly. But we are behind on this project as they were not regularly maintained for several years.
Now let’s talk about what you can’t see. When something goes wrong like the water main break last month everyone is affected. Some of our water infrastructure is very old and susceptible to failure. Some is newer and this is also subject to these possible problems. We need and you deserve valves that open and shut properly. This is essential in emergencies and for general repairs.
And finally the repair, replacement or building of sidewalks in the village will be a central issue as the A.J. Smith School repairs/remodel is completed and many more of our much younger children will be walking to school. We have some good sidewalks, some not so good, some slate, and some non-existent. This situation is unacceptable for our children, our senior population and everyone. The village has a fiscal problem that must be addressed.
So how do we fix this? And how do we afford it? First we will work with our engineering firm, MRB Group to assess and prioritize our needs. After cost and timelines are established we will contact our state and federal representatives to find what incentives and financial support is out there. And finally we will apply for all of the help we can get through low cost loans, matching grants, government support and gifts that we can. Hopefully, the eligibility for a small community will allow for this much needed help, before it becomes a crisis.
As we move forward, we realize that the problems will not be fixed overnight. And we (the Board and Staff) cannot do this alone. We will need community involvement and support.
Mayor Bud Shattuck
It is now November and all of the Village employees are busier than ever. As with most businesses, homes and individuals, the lists seem endless. And that doesn’t include emergency situations that pop up. Like our water main break/leak on Saturday the 14th.
Let me try to walk thru the timeline and follow-up. The leak was reported late in the afternoon, around 4:00. Without knowing the extent of the leak our Public Works crew went to investigate. Realizing the amount of flow was more than just a small leak, it became all hands on deck. Finding the source of a leak, digging it up and fixing it are not as simple a task as one might think. First you TRY to shut off the area valves. But before you dig you must have Dig Safe (NYS and NYSEG) determine where gas and other underground utilities may be. This is a great service if you know you are going to dig, to prevent hitting something you didn’t know was buried there. However in an emergency it takes time for a designated person to get there and clear an area to work in.
Our Public Works crew worked almost 12 hours on finding the problem, fixing it and subsequently making sure we all had water when we woke up Sunday morning. We can’t thank them enough. The County health Department stepped in to test and to make sure the water was safe to drink. They also contacted local TV stations and newspapers to communicate with the public.
For those of you we personally spoke to, exchanged emails with or talked with on the phone, we thank you for your feedback on improving our process of communication during emergencies. We have contacted the County Emergency office to find out more about and get as many people as possible into a reverse 911 call system. That information is available in our office now and we will include it with our next water/sewer billing in January. If you have a Verizon landline you will be automatically on the list. If you have a cell phone, you will need to sign up. Additionally we are working on our internal Village protocols and training.
So Thank You all for your patience and understanding as we work though improving emergency plans for everyone.
Mayor Bud Shattuck
Welcome to summer 2017. For all of our full time residents, our snowbirds and for those lucky enough to vacation or visit, we look forward to helping you have a safe and fun time.
Congratulations to all of our recent high school graduates! May you all have wonderful futures and hopefully, some will stay or return here with MANY children to keep the community vibrant for decades.
The spring storm that again flooded our businesses and homes is behind us and the final NYS Deptartment of Transportation plan is close to approval. Unfortunately, it will affect several businesses, create some traffic problems and give the Village crews much work in coordinating the project. But not this summer, as the construction phase is scheduled for 2018 or 2019. In the meantime, the temporary hoses are in for weather emergencies.
Speaking of storms, the past few weeks have seen many trees damaged by wind and biting rain. As with other problems, when big trees come down our Village Public Works guys and the Union Springs Fire Department, Springport Fire District are always there to help clean up.
On to the Park. Swimming started on Monday the 26th and the Lifeguards are already very busy cleaning the beach, providing information and keeping our families safe.
The boat launch is super busy and sometimes too busy. A couple of weekends ago we had a beautiful day, a scheduled fishing tournament and lots of people eager for their first summer boating. All of this was good until other unregistered groups showed up. The bottom line, it got very unsafe with traffic as most of the 100 – 150 boats in the fishing tournaments all wanted out of the water at the same time, for weigh-ins. We as a board are working hard on a solution.
This is another reminder that the Village no longer does special pickups. Arrangements for large items should be made privately. For rates at the local landfills:
- Auburn City Landfill 315-255-4155
- Seneca Meadows 315-539-5624
Please follow all PARK RULES. They are meant to prevent problems and enhance everyone’s visit. Additionally, let me remind the many pet owners that the South side of the park is for leashed dogs. No animals are allowed near the beach, the playground or the ball fields. And please keep your autos off the grass.