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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 12, 2009

After a quarter century
Pipeline is laid to bring village water to Wildwood

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT—Contractors hired by Wildwood Programs laid pipe under Route 156 this week, bringing the dream of running water to Camp Wildwood one step closer to reality.

Camp Wildwood, located on Leesome Lane above the village, is part of Wildwood Programs, a not-for-profit organization that serves people with disabilities ranging from neurological impairment to autism.

The Altamont Village Board approved granting Wildwood access to village water in September 2008. The camp is located outside the village limits and had to wait for years until the water-strapped village had new wells on line to get water.

The contractors, who work for Albany-based Anjo Construction, have already laid an eight-inch pipe that starts at the well on the east side of Brandle Road, crosses to the west side, then runs across the field to Route 156.  A four-inch pipe will continue for 30 to 40 feet under Route 156, and then go another 400 feet perpendicular away from the road to a pump station.  

According to Don Harrington, the director of facilities for Wildwood Programs, another pump station will then have to be built in order to get enough pressure to pump the water through a two-inch pipe up the Helderberg escarpment. Once the water gets to the top, a line will be run through each of the pavilions, which will enable all the sites at the camp to have running water.

“The most exciting part,” Harrington says, “is that they’re doing directional drilling both under Route 156 and going from the pump house all the way to the top of the mountain without disturbing the road or any of the trees.  There’s no above-ground digging all the way up the mountain.” 

Directional drilling is a trenchless method of installing underground infrastructure like pipes or cable. A hand-held guidance system directs a piece of equipment called a back reamer that tunnels a hole big enough for whatever is being laid, in this case a two-inch water pipe running up the mountain.

According to Gary Milford, the chief financial officer for Wildwood Programs, Wildwood is paying for all the costs associated with the project, which he estimated to be almost $800,000. 

“It’s a very expensive proposition.” Milford said.  “But it’s something that the health department wanted us to do to get a potable water source at the camp. We’re trying to make sure we’re meeting the conditions.” 

Milford said he first approached the village about getting water to Camp Wildwood 25 years ago when he was the camp director. He said he was “thrilled” at the prospect of having water there this summer.

When asked if running water would mean Wildwood could expand the services that the camp offers, Milford was cautiously optimistic. “Over an extended period of time we may be able to add campers,” he said. “We’ve projected that over a five- to 10-year period there might be a 20-percent growth factor, or something along that line.”

The route between the Brandle Road well and the pump station at the bottom of the mountain was the most efficient way to lay the pipes according to Milford. However, there are implications for future access to village water for those living on Route 156.

Mayor James Gaughan said, regarding the prospect of future development, “It’s possible but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it has to pass muster, any enlargement of our system.

“I say that because there’s a whole group of people in the village that say we would overextend ourselves so it has to be done carefully, Gaughan continued. “We worked a long hard time to meet the objectives to address Wildwood’s problems. We organized it in a way to be no cost to the village and to have sufficient pipe capability for expansion if considered, but only under the policy of making sure that, if that time ever comes, we evaluate requests within the context of the capacity of our system in light of any projected use.”

With regards to future development along Route 156, Gaughan called it “inconsistent with both Guilderland’s rural development plan and Altamont’s comprehensive plan that envisions a green space around the village that wouldn’t be infringed upon by large development.”

Gaughan reiterated, “Throughout this whole process, there’s been no talk of giving water to anybody.” He also clarified that the pipe running up the hill could not be used to connect residents who live up the hill to water because of the size of the pipe.

Other business

In other business, the village board:

— Heard a proclamation read by Mayor Gaughan on behalf of the board of trustees, thanking Altamont’s senior citizen volunteers for all of their work in the community.  “We’re glad we can count on you,” Gaughan said; 

—Heard from Fire Chief Paul Miller that there were 103 calls for assistance from the fire department for 2008, thirty fewer calls than the year before. However, the department spent approximately three times as much money in 2008 as in 2007 due to the resources used to fight brushfires;

—Heard from Commissioner of Public Safety Anthony Salerno that there were multiple accidents in December on Route 156 (the Berne-Altamont Road), including one vehicle rollover. Since speeding was the primary factor in the December accidents, the police have set up radar stations along Route 156 in order to get the message out about the dangers of excessive speeding;

—Heard from Gaughan that the village is submitting a grant to the state for $22,575 dollars for “improving access to historical records from the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund.” The grant is 100-percent reimbursable and there is no cost to the village if the grant is awarded. The funding is for a year, starting in July 2009.

Gaughan said that the grant would be used to create a system to catalogue and find material, as well as to properly stabilize and store documents, manuscripts, maps, and letters in the village collection.

Included in the grant is a sum of $9,600 for an archival consultant whose job would be to process and catalogue between eight and 10 collections identified by an archivist from the New York State Archives in a 2008 report. Another $8,000 of the grant is earmarked for a curatorial consultant whose job would be, according to Gaughan, to “work in concert with the archivist to ensure the long-term success of the project.”

Marijo Dougherty, the museum’s volunteer curator, described the village’s archives in October as “a gift from the gods for someone doing a thesis to be able to have this kind of primary research.”

“Based on Marijo Dougherty’s efforts” Gaughan concluded at the meeting, “we felt we needed to bring it to the next level.”  Gaughan said he expects to hear whether or not Altamont received the grant some time in May;

—Approved the Firemen’s 2008 Service Credits listing. The list will be posted for 30 days to make sure that the credits for each fireman are correct. Firemen who have met the 50-point requirements will be awarded with a savings fund contribution of $700.

— Approved, after meeting in executive session, hiring Stacy Loucks to work as court clerk for 10 hours per week at a salary of $15 per hour, as recommended by Altamont’s two judges, Neil Tabor and Rebecca Morse Hout. The position is probationary for a period of up to one year. The board also approved the consulting services of Heather Adams, who had been Altamont’s court clerk, retroactively to Jan. 16. She will provide court clerk services on an as-needed basis at a rate of $15.30 per hour plus mileage reimbursement of 48.5 cents per mile until Feb. 19; 

—Accepted, after the closed session, the resignation of Matthew T. Hanzalik, part-time police officer, effective Jan. 31. The board also approved hiring Jason R. Helwig for the position of part-time police officer effective Feb. 3 at a salary of $15 per hour as recommended by Salerno.  The position is probationary for a period of up to one year; and

—Approved, after meeting in executive session, the appointment of public works laborer Lucas Oliver to new title as Equipment Operator I at a salary of $15.50 per hour effective Feb. 3. The position is probationary for a period of six months.

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