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Lancaster bonds $990,000 for waterline project
By Lee Chowaniec
Aug 4, 2011, 10:20
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After holding a public hearing on the matter, by resolution, the Town of Lancaster approved the bonding of $990,000 for the replacement of approximately 6,700 linear feet of 12-inch water line along Schwartz Road, from William Street south to Hall Road.

According to Town Supervisor Robert Giza, the town will most likely spend only $800,000 on the project; a project that includes all necessary site work, equipment, apparatus and other improvements and costs incidental to the project completion. “We are borrowing a little more in case we run into problems,” declared Giza. “We are borrowing the money at a 0.37% interest rate, the lowest that money has ever been loaned to a town.”

The project will be bid out in the winter and construction will not take place until next year where the project can be completed in one season.

Only three residents spoke at the public hearing, all proponents of the project but with comments and questions they believed necessary.

Public Hearing

Resident Don Symer commented that Schwartz Road residents should be happy campers tonight with more reliable service being provided them. Symer declared that as far back as 50 years ago a proposal was presented to the Town Board of Lancaster recommending it enter into a lease management arrangement with the Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) for existing town water districts. “The town followed this suggestion and significant savings were obtained,” Symer stated.

Symer then commented that the Town of Hamburg had recently taken such step to have ECWA take over their assets for the same cost-saving reasons. Symer believed the town should consider such arrangement. “I believe Lancaster’s consolidated water district is currently town owned and managed by ECWA. An outright transfer of Lancaster’s water district assets to the water authority at this juncture would save significant taxpayer money. I believe now is the time for the town to get out of the water business.”

Symer commented that in his opinion the Schwartz Road project was but a band-aid. “It should be done on a grander scale. I believe a study should be done to find out how bad our assets are, as far as the water delivery system is concerned and make the big move.”

Supervisor Giza thanked Symer for his comments and proceeded to give some background information that helped the Town Board make its decision. “Originally, we were thinking of the same idea/proposal as you suggest. We were going to give our lines to the water authority as we have given our sewer lines to the county sewer authority. The only thing is that the water authority would not accept the water lines until they were fixed and in good shape. They needed millions of dollars in repair/replacement.”

“They identified what they considered troublesome water lines they wanted repaired before they took them over. They gave us a letter about five years ago. The town borrowed $7 million and went forward. In the meantime, we put Penora Street on the list as well. I doing research, we found that if we did turn the water lines over to the ECWA that the rental of the fire hydrants would go up considerably. They (ECWA) would now own them and we would have to rent them from them. That turned us from turning over our brand new water lines over to them.”

“In the meantime Schwartz Road came up; 15 waterline breaks. Another part of the problem is that they are next to a gas line. So we hope this is the last item that we have to fix. Our plan is not to turn the lines over to the water authority because of the repairs that have already been done.”

Town Engineer Robert Harris added that the water authority contains a list of everything they have, what they consider significant break downs and whenever they make a call. “We took a look at that list five years ago, and that top tier of that list, for the $7 million, there were probably five or six other locations on that list, that when you look at them the breaks weren’t significant enough to make it cost justified for replacement. So we talked to the water authority about that and they said: “well, if you are going to keep the system, fine, you don’t have to do that. But if you are going to give us the system, spend the other $10 million to replace the others too as we are not going to take over the system unless you replace everything we put on that list; and in some cases if you had four breaks over 10,000 feet of water line, over ten years, which in my opinion didn’t justify repairing for another 20 years or so.”

“So the town would not only spend more for hydrants, instead of spending $7 million for repairs/replacements of water lines, it was going to be somewhere around $14 million to $16 million for the water line project before we turned it over to the county,” declared Harris.

Supervisor Giza commented that when the South Penora pump station went on line the added pressure broke marginally cracked lines; lines that would not have to be serviced for another 10 years. The pressure from the new pump station did create line breaks but did improve water pressure delivery throughout the town.

Schwartz Road resident Stan Krzysiak stated he was disappointed to hear that the project did not extend as far north as Westwood. Saying he heard Supervisor Giza claim that the water pressure throughout the town was excellent, “We don’t,” declared Krzysiak. “And despite that you are saying that this project is not coming out this far, to Westwood.” He was told it was not.

Comment

In 2006, the Town Board by resolutions approved to bond for $7 million to make water system improvements throughout the town.

The improvements included the construction of approximately 9,380 linear feet of 12 inch Town owned water main along Impala Parkway, Steinfeldt Road, Erie Street and Walter Winter Way.

The project also included the replacement of approximately 32,210 linear feet of deteriorated water main with 8 inch Town owned water main along Broadway, Bowen Road, Lake Avenue, Ransom Road,Townline Road, Waltham Avenue and William Street. All the foregoing projects included all necessary site work, equipment, apparatus and other improvements and costs incidental to the projects.

A public hearing on the proposition was held that same evening. All residents partaking in the public hearing agreed that the water line venture was worthwhile, but that it should have been done years ago when remediation costs would have been much lower and such project was under consideration by the town and county. At that time relief could have come sooner for homeowners who appeared before the board complaining of personal low water pressure issues and those voicing concerns that the water pressure was below firefighting requirements.

The South Penora Pumping station that was put in operation in 2003 did increase water pressure but did not resolve the town’s water pressure issues. Improvement came with the townwide water line project.

Resident Lee Chowaniec stated he was a proponent for the project. His comments and questions were directed to the bonding process in relation to the tax cap regulations being initiated. This will be covered in another report.

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