Board of Trustees discusses improvements to village roads, sidewalks and sewer system

The Stillwater Board of Trustees discussed various improvements to village roads, sidewalks and the sewer system Tuesday night (June 18), giving the go-ahead to two new projects and extending the completion time of another.

Trustee John Basile went through a lengthy explanation, which included a hand drawn illustration on the meeting room drawing board about recent problems with the village sewer system discovered after three heavy rainstorms hit the area in June.

Some 11 inches of rain fell during the month causing two adjacent manholes to overflow with sewage on Bunce Lane on three separate occasions.

Engineers from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the village’s year-long sewer improvement project spent several weeks investigating the problem and what corrective action to take.

Among a number of alternatives that includes sealing up one of the manholes, engineers suggest increasing the sewage flow from Pump Station No. 1 to the village’s water treatment plant.

Officials first considered installing a higher pressure pump at the pump station but scrapped the idea over fears that the original 6-inch under grown main might burst because of its age — causing an even bigger problem to deal with.

Instead, engineers suggested replacing the 6-inch main with an 8-inch pipe, which would offer the capability of nearly doubling the water flow. The new pipe would offer 50 square inches of flow versus 28 square inches.

“This wouldn’t eliminate the problem on Bunce Lane but (with other actions) it would certainly help correct it,” Basile said. “We need to move quickly on this.”

Trustees passed a resolution to put out bids for the work, which Basile said should not exceed $400,000. The pipe would be laid using a “directional boring” method so the excavation of property owners’ lawns would not be necessary. It would be funded through the village’s existing 30-year, no interest loan it received for the ongoing sewer improvement project, which is “well under budget,” Basile said.

The additional pipe work is estimated to cost village taxpayers about 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. If Trustees chose to take no action and the manholes continued to spill sewage the village could face hefty fines from DEC that “could end up costing taxpayers much more,” said Trustee Ellen Vomacka.

“No one wants to spend more money but these are the difficult decisions this board is faced to make,” she said.

In other action Tuesday:

Trustees added two more roads to the summer paving schedule, joining Major Dickinson Avenue.

During a special meeting on June 11, the board awarded a contract of $74,000 to Kubricky Construction Corp to repave Major Dickinson. Kubricky was the lowest of three bids submitted for the project. That work will begin July 1.

Other roads to be paved will include Franklin Court at a cost of about $30,000 and Champlain Road at $35,000 to $40,000. Trustees began discussing the village’s seasonal road paving work in May, prioritizing the order of repair based on need and funds available.

The board also voted to extend the work order with contractor A.J. Catalfamo Construction of Hudson Falls for completing the new sidewalk and storm drain project near Stillwater Central School following a brief update from Chazen Engineering.

Brady Sherlock of Chazen told the board that the same heavy June rains that caused the sewer problems also delayed progress on the sidewalk work. The work was scheduled to be “substantially” completed, by contract, on June 17 after a May 20 restart this spring. The contractor asked the village for two and a half weeks additional time, which Trustees unanimously granted, so the majority of the construction work could be completed by July 9, with clean up, grading and reseeding of lawns finished by July 19.

The board also discussed with engineers proper reinstallation of homeowners’ mailboxes in that area once the project is completed, and Mayor Ernest Martin voiced his displeasure over residents’ driveways being blocked “unnecessarily” during construction.

“I really didn’t appreciate that,” Martin said. “We’ve gone through hell the last few weeks with residents (some of whom showed up at the June 11 meeting to complain) about that and it wasn’t right.

Village Trustees also heard the following reports/updates at the June meeting:

  • Trustee Ellen Vomacka reported that the Major Dickinson park fence destroyed by vandals will be replace this summer and a new walk-through gate will be installed to deter youth from climbing and damaging the new fence to get around it.
  • Trustee Judy Wood-Shaw reported that 30 people attended the first anniversary/birthday of the village’s monthly Senior Time program in May. The program is held 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the last Friday of each month at The Stillwater Area Community Center. The program has grown from three attendees to 30 since its inception. Senior Time is on break for the summer and will resume on September 27.
  • Mayor Ernest Martin introduced the idea of writing and adopting a new local law regulating residents’ responsibilities as they relate to the care and use of village sidewalks in front of their properties. A state law is in use now, but with all of the new sidewalk construction, a local law may be the preferred option going forward. More discussion will follow.
  • Village Clerk Sheristin Tedesco reported that 30 percent of village taxes had been paid to date. Taxes are due July 1.
  • The Fire Department responded to four alarms in May including a porch fire on Champlain Road. The department also conducted six drills during the month and worked detail at the school car show and the village’s Memorial Day parade. Trustees also approved the appointment of two Junior Firefighters for the department — Lane Conti and Anastasia Thrane.
  • Trustees heard an update on the village’s liability insurance plan from David Meager of Adirondack Trust Insurance.
  • Trustees approved a reduction in EDUs (water rents) for the Veterans Memorial Home, a not for profit organization, from 3 to 1, reflective on the next water billing cycle.
  • Trustees approved a motion regarding New York State’s new Uniform Notice of Claim Act. Village Attorney James Peluso explained that the law provides more uniformity among municipalities regarding the timeframe when people can file personal injury or property damage claims. The motion designates the NYS Secretary of State as the local government for service of notice of claims and designates the Stillwater village clerk as the recipient for whom the Secretary of State shall forward any notice of claims.