Village sewer line protection nears

A solution to a long-standing problem for the village of Fredonia’s sewage treatment system may be at hand.

At its meeting Monday, the Village Board approved a resolution allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to go ahead with a plan to protect the village’s sewer line along Canadaway Creek in the town of Dunkirk. After years of work on the issue dating to 1999, the remnants of Hurricane Sandy last fall caused enough damage to make solving the problem a priority.

After Sandy, the board learned the creek’s direction was changed, leaving it some 20 feet away from the sewer line and running right at the sewer line and the bank the line is located under and on.

According to the resolution, the village received options for the location of the stream bank erosion control project from the Corps’ Sophie Baj on May 6. After review, the board picked Option 1, which realigns the project design so it is entirely on village-owned property, eliminating the need for any easements, the use of eminent domain proceedings, or delays caused by legal actions.

The Corps also presented a list of additional advantages for Option 1 which included the lineal footage being approximately the same, overall cost will be less than the prior design, and there will be a minimal environmental assessment component.

By unanimous vote the board authorized Mayor Stephen Keefe to write a letter informing Baj and the Corps the village will go with Option 1, subject to the Corps completing a satisfactory environmental assessment.

“It does everything we need it to do without going into eminent domain,” Keefe said after the meeting, adding the cost to the village will be about $300,000, about 35 percent of the project. “The grant originally was $750,000 so I don’t know how that all balances out anymore. Right now they’re reading the blueprints. … They gave us a rough guideline on what it’s going to look like, an easier process and a straighter line they’re going to be working on. It looks like they’re going to complete it by the end of the year. … It’s been going on since 1999. We’re hoping to see the end of it by the end of this year, hopefully by the end of the summer.”

Keefe said he thought the Corps would try to get the money in hand and move forward on the project.

“We approved it, we’ve done our part, so now it’s up to them,” he added. “I’m hoping the sooner the better.”

Keefe said the village cost includes an initial $40,000 pay-in and then 35 percent of what the final line is for the project. Keefe was asked what the last estimate was for the project.

“That was what we’ve been in great debate with the Army Corps of Engineers (about). In fact, we’ve negotiated over and over again with the high prices through the Army Corps of Engineers,” he replied. “They seem a whole lot more willing to be fair and equitable with us at this point right now.”

Keefe said a change in command at the local Corps office has helped as well.

“He’s worked very closely with us, he’s been at the table with us, whereas the last lieutenant colonel never met at the table with us, never was even in our discussions,” he explained. “This gentleman seems to be taking a good leadership role and wants to move this forward. … Walking down there you can see where there’s a huge horseshoe shaped around the creek, and if it keeps eroding toward our pipe; sooner or later it’s going to hit that pipe and raw sewage heading toward Lake Erie is just going to flow freely down the creek.

“It’s a high potential right now, but if they move quickly and do what needs to be done we’ll be in a safe situation.”

During the meeting Keefe thanked village officials for their work on the project.

In other water-related issues, the board directed the mayor to write a letter to people interested in purchasing part of the village’s 24-foot right of way to Cassadaga Lake, informing them the village is not interested in selling any of its right of way.

The board also approved previously announced increases in water and sewer rates after a public hearing at which no one spoke. Both increases take effect June 1.

The quarterly sewer fees for customers in the village will now be $10 plus $3.15 for each 1,000 gallons of water supplied as measured by water or sewer meters approved by the village.

The quarterly water rates will consist of a minimum charge of $25, $2.92 per 1,000 gallons from 1,000 gallons to 100,000 gallons used and $2.77 per 1,000 gallons used over 100,000 gallons. Water rates to town of Pomfret water districts shall be increased as provided by the contracts between the village and the town.

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