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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 10, 2009

Mayor charges McIntyre with finding
affordable plan for upgrading Altamont’s old sewer system

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT As Altamont continues to scrutinize its century-old sewer system, village board members termed the $3.5 million cost of a total overhaul both astronomical and inappropriate.

At the well-attended Sept. 2 village board meeting, the trustees, Mayor James Gaughan, and Superintendent of Public Works Tim McIntyre discussed how to proceed further in fixing and updating the system.

Last year, the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice conducted two studies for the village — one on sewer inflow and infiltration completed earlier this year, and a recent preliminary feasibility draft on Altamont’s wastewater plant. The studies had separate recommendations that, according to Gaughan, need to be integrated and prioritized in order to, “develop a short- and long-range plan, and to do due diligence to make sure our sewer system is operating 20 years from now.”

McIntyre said that one of the biggest problems to be addressed is that many of the village’s homes have basement sump pumps that are connected to the sewer plant. While the plant is capable of processing an average day’s worth of water, which is about 200,000 gallons, a heavy rain or snow melt, in which numerous sump pumps add water to the already heavy inflow, requires the plant to process about 420,000 gallons of water a day, which the aging plant is simply unable to do.

McIntyre said that 20 years ago, the village chose to update the sewer system by a now controversial method called blending, whereby some excess water is released from the plant without completing the entire treatment process. In 2007, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that blending is an unacceptable method for sewer treatment plants to use and doing so makes the village noncompliant with federal regulations.

Trustee William Aylward called the $3.5 million price tag of fixing the entire system, “an inappropriate number for us to work with in terms of funding this ourselves.”

Trustee Christine Marshall summarized her views by saying, “We have two studies with two different approaches and we need to blend the two and prioritize those that are dealing with the most serious issues, and which would satisfy the DEC in the short and long term.  All of us agree the cost is astronomical.”

After hearing comments from the trustees and explanations from McIntyre, Gaughan charged McIntyre to report to the board at a later date after “compartmentalizing and laying out a legitimate plan that our resources can bear to address the multiple concerns in the report.”

Other business

The board also:

— Heard from Gaughan that Abby Forman had been crowned the 2009 Mayor for the Day after placing first in the Altamont Free Library’s summer reading program. In her essay of what she would do if she were mayor, Forman said she would want to see a link on the village’s website comparing photos of how the village looks today with pictures showing the village in the past, such as archival photos of the old train station.

Forman also said she would like to see sculptures in the Maple Avenue Park promoting Earth Day, which is in April. Gaughan said that he had asked the village’s webmaster, Kelly Best, to implement Forman’s first request and he asked that Forman, “keep us on task to make sure we do this”;

— Heard from Trustee Kerry Dineen that 21,000 advertisement brochures were sent to residents throughout the Capital District. The purpose of the brochures is to highlight local businesses and attractions. Dineen posted the following note for The Enterprise: “I want to thank the area businesses in Altamont, Knox, and Berne for their help, contributions, and participation in making our first ‘Altamont-Helderberg’ brochure a success. Special thanks go out to Diana Greene, Karen Giles, Charles Donnelly, Nancy Turner, Carl Felix, Rhonda Flansburg, Ronald Ginsburg, The Finke Family, Amy Pokorney, Keith Lee, Barbara Mulfelder, and the directors at Thacher Park. This was a true community project and they should be very proud of what they accomplished”;

— Heard from Gaughan that the village museum and archives has a new volunteer, Vaughn Lainhart Nevin, Ph.D., who became interested in volunteering after responding to an advertisement by the museum, looking to display an Altamont high school class ring, which Nevin owned and donated;

— Heard from fire Chief Paul Miller that, from January through May of 2009, the fire department received 38 calls and, from June through July 31, it had 42 calls. Miller also reminded the board that that the commissioners’ meeting would be at the village hall on Sept. 14;

— Heard from Donald Cropsey Jr., building inspector, that the planning board had approved a new office for Dr. Margaret Walker, psychologist at 105-107 Maple Avenue, the former home of Ecco Video. Cropsey also said that the Stewart’s Shop located at the corner of Altamont Boulevard and Main Street, was planning on modifying the site and replacing the existing canopy.

A site at Prospect Street is also being considered by the planning board for a use variance for a potential storage facility, and a building permit was given for photovoltaic roof panels on Sunset Drive;

— Commissioner of Public Safety Anthony Salerno said the police department averaged 36 arrests this month and that 45 defendants would be coming to criminal court this week;

— Unanimously passed a resolution to adopt portfolio management guidelines for the Volunteer Fireman’s Service Award Program as submitted by David M. Rogers, financial consultant of RBC Wealth Management.  The proposal retained the same investment objectives already approved but changed the program from commission basis to an annual fee of .75 percent of the total value of the account.

Trustee Aylward said of the volunteer benefit, “I hope people take notice of the program.  If they want to get involved and have an inclination to volunteer, they should know that this program is available”;

— Unanimously passed a resolution acknowledging the required annual audit of Altamont Justice Court’s records that was conducted on Aug. 12 by Catherine Hasbrouck, village treasurer;

— Passed a resolution to hold a public hearing on Oct. 6 at 7:45 p.m. at the village community room to consider authorization to expend the Fire Equipment Reserve Fund to purchase a new 3,000-gallon commercial pumper tanker for the fire department and authorized the fire department to accept sealed bids for the pumper tanker;

— Authorized the fire department to accept sealed bids on a surplus 1996 Pierce Saber E-16 fire truck. The minimum bid is $90,000. Proceeds from the sale of this truck would go towards the purchase of a new fire truck;

— Authorized Gaughan and his partner, Keith C. Lee, to block off a portion of Jay Street between 106 Jay Street and Maple Avenue from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 12 for a private event;

— Unanimously passed a resolution to commit up to $500 to support the Altamont Free Library’s application to the Capital Region Arts Center for Altamont summer concert program;

— Unanimously passed a resolution to authorize Gaughan to sell the current senior van to the town of Guilderland for $14,500 as recommended by McIntyre. The sale is contingent upon the delivery of the new senior van;

— Approved holding the Altamont Fire and Police Department Halloween Parade and Party, beginning at 3 p.m. from Orsini Park and ending at the village community room on Sunday, Oct. 25; and

— Approved applications from Nick Carducci and Lucas Kerr, apprentice firemen, and Laura Tubbs, fire police, for membership to the Altamont Fire Department as requested of Chief Miller.

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