Options, numbers shared but no decisions made
SILVER CREEK – With options and numbers on the table, there was no agreement on a first step to be made with the North County Water District water project.
Engineers emphasized the more consolidated, regional approach proved to be the most cost effective; however, it is up to involved municipalities to decide what to do going forward.
Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan encouraged officials to make a decision with the economic development potential for the project in mind. He also encouraged them to take a first step in order to keep momentum for the project going.
Portland Supervisor Dan Schrantz opened the meeting by informing officials that nothing has been decided for the North County Water Project aside from the engineer and that the agency’s goal is to make a decision that benefits all municipalities involved.
The long-awaited presentation of options and costs for the North County Water District was given Thursday night by Clark Patterson Lee engineers Richard Henry III and Eric Wies.
However, this information did not inspire any immediate decisions from the North County Water Authority.
Henry said the goal of the district is to reduce expenses and attract economic development, but from the beginning control has been the main issue for the NCWA.
He explained the NCWA needs to decide whether to go with a regional approach where the district takes over the cost and control of water treatment facilities, or a municipal approach where each water supplier sets its own rates and charges the district but the municipality is responsible for its own improvement projects.
Henry also gave members seven options besides doing nothing. 1) Upgrade Dunkirk’s plant to 10 million gallons per day (MGD), 2) Include Dunkirk’s plant at 7.5 MGD and Fredonia’s at 2.5 MGD, 3) Include Dunkirk, Fredonia and Brocton as suppliers, 4) Include Dunkirk, Fredonia and Erie County Water Authority as suppliers, 5) Include Dunkirk and ECWA as suppliers 6) build a new water treatment plant with a 10 MGD capacity or 7) Go around Dunkirk and Fredonia.
Henry presented current water rates because these may change depending on debt service and other factors.
“Keep your focus off the rates and more on what is the most cost effective,” he said.
Weis presented several charts, all of which followed the rule, the more suppliers involved in the project, the higher the cost to the district. Making the option of upgrading Dunkirk’s plant to a 10 MGD capacity the most cost effective with either a regional or municipal approach.
He also suggested municipalities consider consolidating the workers they have to maintain waterlines for added cost savings.
“It follows what we said at the beginning of this; that it would be more expensive for each municipality to do this alone,” he said, emphasizing the cost savings in consolidation.
However, the engineers said the decision lies in the hands of the NCWA.
“The numbers show the Dunkirk-only option is the most cost effective, but is it truly a regional project if Fredonia, the second largest community, is not included?” he asked, putting the decision in officials’ hands.
Brocton Mayor David Hazelton said he needs to know what is going to happen going forward because the village has funding to be spent at its plant by September.
“I have said from the beginning that if the best thing for the village of Brocton residents is to close our plant, I will do it. But then we are going to need that transmission line,” he said.
Silver Creek Mayor Nick Piccolo echoed this, saying until the lines are in his village also has no other options.
Horrigan said Thursday was his 100th day in office and after getting such bad new in March of Carriage House closing, he asked officials to see the potential for economic growth that will come from this project.
He also encouraged them to make a decision, even if it is not a final decision.
“I believe it is OK if, let’s say, you go with Dunkirk, Fredonia and the Erie County Water Authority. Then three or five years down the road Fredonia needs a good dredging and you can decide what to do from there. You don’t need a final decision right now. I would rather see this step off … and not lose the momentum,” he said.
Hazelton suggested starting with Brocton and the towns of Dunkirk and Portland borrow for the transmission line, since it will have to be done no matter what is decided.
Pomfret Supervisor Don Steger insisted a project must be picked before funding can be secured.
Dunkirk City Councilwoman-at-large Stephanie Kiyak asked the engineers make a spreadsheet detailing the cost of different amounts of usage for each municipality to determine how the city of Dunkirk’s rates compare. It was pointed out Dunkirk’s rates will increase due to the debt service from the consent order upgrades needed at the plant.
Before closing the meeting, Sheridan Supervisor Louis Delmonte asked if this decision can be made into steps. Steger said the first step is to decide to go with a regional or municipal system.
“The goal is to supply an economically feasible product. If everyone draws conclusions with a personal stake then this is not going to be economically viable,” he said.
When it was clear no decision would be made Steger prompted an adjournment, which was opposed but approved by the majority.
Dunkirk City Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said he found the presentation informative and intends to look it over. When asked if the presentation quelled any of his objections outlined in a recent letter, he said the options have alleviated some members’ concerns.
The NCWA will meet after the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation’s next meeting on May 8 in Sheridan.
Comments on this article may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org