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