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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 4, 2010

Voorheesville wants to sell water to increase village funds and decrease development

By Philippa Stasiuk

VOORHEESVILLE — Mayor Robert Conway hopes to curtail new development around the village by striking a water deal with the town of New Scotland for homes that are already built, reasoning, if the village water is used for existing structures, it won’t be available for new ones.

At the Jan. 13 workshop meeting, Conway referred to a conversation he had with New Scotland Supervisor Thomas Dolin about the possibility of making permanent a planned temporary pipe connection between Voorheesville and the Orchard Park neighborhood outside the village line in New Scotland.  By account of both municipal leaders, such an agreement would be mutually beneficial.

“We have the capacity. I’m not concerned about selling too much water,” said Conway. “What I’m concerned about is, when we grant water, that it possibly opens the door for further expansion. I think part of my thought process behind talking to Supervisor Dolin about Orchard Park is those are current residents that have a water issue. The village would realize an increase in revenue but it does nothing to expand the development of the area. Those are already current homeowners. By granting them water, it’s not encouraging development.”

Rising levels of iron and manganese in the Northeast Water District prompted the pipe connection between the village and Orchard park, Dolin said in November.

“Originally, it was not expected that the Northeast water system would have to be completely taken out of service to implement the proposed improvements to the chemical feed system,” R. Mark Dempf, of Stantec, the town’s engineer, wrote in a memo to the New Scotland Town board.

While iron and manganese can cause stains on clothes or household fixtures, and iron can make water taste metallic, the federal Environmental Protection Agency considers the minerals to be secondary contaminants — with no direct affect on health.  The maximum contaminant level for iron is 0.3 milligrams per liter and for manganese is 0.05.

Water has been a problem for the Orchard Park development since it was built in the 1980s and methane and high salt were found in wells there. Orchard Park residents pushed for municipal water, and the development was served by New Scotland’s Northeast Water District.

Late in 2009, the Voorheesville board agreed to allow engineers working for New Scotland to create a temporary pipe connection in April to the village’s water and provide the Northeast Water District with 45,000 gallons of water over a three-day period. The engineers were then to install plumbing tanks to treat the water for contaminants before it gets into residents’ homes.

“There’s a point where it’s a health issue,” said Dolin. “We’re not there yet but we’re getting close and we’ve embarked on a process to correct that. In the midst of the discussion of temporarily connecting to Voorheesville’s water, they said, ‘What if we made it a permanent connection?’ Which is very interesting. I haven’t explored the financial implications, what the respective costs would be, and I haven’t yet approached the residents. This is just an idea that’s been floated out there but I’m interested.”

Dolin said that the next step would be for the Voorheesville Village Board to make a formal inquiry at which time he would follow up with the New Scotland Town Board and its residents.

“We’d have to compute the relative costs,” said Dolin. “Right now, we pump water out of the ground for Northeast and the only expense now would be the treatment.”

Despite a tempestuous national real-estate market, development around Voorheesville is poised to boom. Within the village, two developments are planned — Quail Run with 23 units and the Voorhees House subdivision with five homes. New homes within the village limits such as these would automatically be connected to village pipes.

Outside village lines, the board has agreed to provide water to two developments: Claremont Estates, owned by Catherine Froman, which is slated to add 10 homes, and the Colonie Country Club Estates, a proposed subdivision on Maple Road of 40 new homes abutting the Colonie Country Club golf course. Conway said units outside the village limits are billed at double the water rate.

John Bossalini, a project executive at Amedore Homes, the builder for the country club development, explained why the Voorheesville area was so attractive to development. “The desire to move there is huge. It’s a great school district,” he said. “Taxes are reasonable. It’s an easy commute.  New Scotland is so close to the city and the state campus.”

The village board also received water enquiries from Steve Burke at its Jan. 13 meeting; Burke is considering developing land that he owns on Altamont Road. His lot is approximately 1,000 feet from the end of the village’s water main. The board explained to Burke that a water district would have to be set up by the town, and that he would need to submit a written request to the board before it would decide whether or not to sell him water.

After village resident Steve Schreiber told the Voorheesville board last February that he was concerned with the amount of potential development around the village, Conway said that the village was selling water “as a response to hits taken to the budget.”

When asked what he meant, Conway said the village lost about $50,000 per year when Atlas Copco Comptec, the village’s largest water customer, reduced its water consumption by 90 percent, or about 20 million gallons, after building re-circulating cooling towers for the water.

Conway said that the open workshop meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9 would be dedicated to discussing water issues.

Other business

In recent meetings, the village board:

— Heard from Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service volunteer Robin Shufelt at the Jan. 13 workshop meeting that the ambulance service is now cataloging emergency calls to determine whether they are from the village or the town and will submit a report at the end of this year for the annual audit. Trustee David Cardona had reported at the December board meeting that the ambulance service had not submitted numbers for the 2009 audit;

— Heard complaints from several residents of Yorktown Court who attended the workshop meeting in December that drainage from an addition to a home located on Cheshire Court could exacerbate water problems. Mayor Conway noted that, aside from ensuring that building and zoning codes were met during construction, the board could not do anything, as it was a civil matter. Town Registrar Karen Finnessey later told The Enterprise that the neighbors had reached an agreement and that the pipes for the property on Cheshire Court would be capped;

— Unanimously approved Resolution 1 of 2010 during the mid-January board meeting, authorizing the sale of the village’s Prospect Street property, which was designated a substandard lot;

— Heard from Conway that he had appointed Kathy Martin to the Conservation Advisory Council to complete the term of James Preston who had moved from the village, and that Finnessey had been appointed to another four-year term as registrar;

— Heard from Schreiber of Pleasant Street during the January pre-meeting that, after two years of making the same request, he would like to know when the village’s website will be updated to reflect meeting minutes, agendas, an updated calendar, and other board business. “It’s no secret that I’m frustrated,” said Schreiber. Village Clerk Linda Pasquali replied that she had received a test e-mail from the village’s new webmaster that evening and that she would review it the following day, and it would be working within a week.

Schreiber then offered to meet with Pasquali the following day to discuss what content the village’s website would include to make Voorheesville’s website as user-friendly as Altamont’s. “We need to make sure the village knows what’s happening,” concluded Schreiber;

— Heard from Public Works Superintendent Will Smith that a 45- to 50-pound beaver had been trapped out of the Vly Creek. Smith had reported during the December board meeting that the beaver dam was causing flow problems in the creek, but that, since the beaver’s removal, the dam had washed downstream. Smith said he could not say whether the beaver had been relocated or killed;

— Heard from Fire Chief Frank Papa that he was presenting a list of officers for installation and that a risk assessment had been completed on the fire department’s ropes. Papa also said that there had been a recall on helmets due to melting issues, and he would be purchasing 13 new helmets, costing about $200 apiece. Papa added that helmets are supposed to be replaced every 10 years but that the helmets being recalled have been used by village firefighters since 1986. Finnessey said the cost of the helmets would be designated an unexpected expense and come out of the regular budget;

— Heard a response from Pasquali to questioning from a woman attending the January board meeting that the village elections will be held on March 16 and that trustees Richard Berger and John Stevens’ seats are up for election as well as the village justice post, currently held by Kenneth Connolly. Pasquali referred all people interested in entering the race to the board of elections website (albanycounty.com) for information on how to be nominated;

— Heard from Stevens that the ambulance service had purchased two new power stretchers, which are, “working out well”; and

— Heard from Conway that the village offers its condolences to the families of Barbara Cureau, John Pennock, Patricia Rivers, and Sandra Seim.

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