City Engineer Chester Szymanski explains the costs and grants needed to comply with the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.

by Dave Warner

The City has been notified by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that it must install a Disinfection System at its wastewater treatment facility to improve the treatment quality of effluent that is ultimately discharged into the Mohawk River.

City Engineer Chester Szymanski was on hand to explain the need for passing Resolution #34, which authorized him to seek grant support for the required project. “The DEC has stated that the City must construct essentially a disinfection process at the wastewater treatment plant. We did an evaluation and selected the ultraviolet process and within the timetable set by the DEC, which is a three-year timetable, the City has to construct this process at the treatment plant.”

“Estimates I’ve put together indicate that it will be between $1.6 to $1.8 million dollars. There’s no way out of it, we have to do it. That helps us in one way in that the water quality improvement grant will fund us up to a million dollars of that cost and we’ve already applied for it and expect to get it,” he said.

The second piece is a matching grant that will fund above that amount, and according to Szymanski “We may get the project nearly fully funded.”

He stated that there are certain parts of the project that the City could do that would be counted as ‘in-kind’ services. “We’re going to administer that and make it happen. The first grant requires a $250,000 out of pocket or in-kind contribution.” The second grant does not require any in-kind contribution.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Alderman Dan Carter addressed the Mayor and said, “You and I had discussed a couple of weeks ago the future of the south side and if possible a pedestrian bridge and I’d like to hear you elaborate on that.”

Mayor Blask stated, “As you were saying, Chet and I were discussing next year’s round of funding. We did not apply for a CFA grant this year, but we definitely want to apply next year and we were discussing what we could put in grants for. One of the things was some work down at Sterzinar Park sort of connecting Canal Side to Main Street.”

“We’ve also been talking about improving parking down there and possibly improving Sterzinar Park in a couple of different ways. Putting in a more permanent bandstand and an all-weather stage,” said Blask.

Blask continued “Chet and I met down there with some engineers out of Saratoga and sort of talked about it in general terms, it’s early in the game, but applying for a grant. But there will need to be some legwork done beforehand trying to connect the two, which is a huge thing.”

The discussion continued as Blask was envisioning an above-ground walkway from the left side of the current tunnel area connecting right over to the corner of Ann and Albany Street while Carter was envisioning one that went across the canal to take the bike and pedestrian traffic off of the 167 bridge.

“So you would not have to get on that two-lane highway from the bike path, which would be very beneficial,” said Carter. “How do people on the bike path get to the downtown without going over the 167 bridge? They can’t.”

Blask said, “Even the quotes for the first one, were really, really high. The architects from Saratoga were talking about the Amsterdam one and that this would be similar to that.”

Photo by Dave Warner – An aerial view of the pedestrian bridge in Amsterdam, New York.

Carter stated, “I’ll admit that the tunnel is not very glorious as I walk it every day, but it’s safe and gets you from point A to B without any more cost to the City.”

Other council members conceded that people are afraid to cross the highway dealing with the traffic and dangerous conditions after exiting the tunnel.

Blask said, “Certainly, I’m not shutting any discussion about it down, it’s just that I think that our wires were crossed.” The Mayor conceded that they could have further meetings about the topic with the City Engineer, including the addition of better lighting and signage for the highway crossing.

In other business, the council set a public hearing date of October 1, 2019, at 6:15 PM at City Hall for Local Law #2 – Introducing a Local Law fixing the Compensation of Certain Elected City Officers – City Treasurer, which authorizes a 1.5% salary increase for the City of Little Falls City Treasurer, and Local Law #3 – Introducing a Local Law fixing the Compensation of Certain Elected City Officers – City Clerk, which authorizes a 1.5% salary increase for the City of Little Falls City Clerk.

In the Mayor’s comments portion, Blask thanked Mike Bulger for the weekly Cruise Inn performances at Rotary Park. “You knocked it out of the park and we sincerely appreciate it. I’ve heard nothing but good about it.”

He also commented about the Danielle Nicole concert last Friday at Benton Hall Academy. “It was so nice to see all 415 seats in Benton Hall all filled up for somebody of that caliber. It was really a high-class event and a gorgeous night and they did a super job on that.”