Water under the bridge

The phrase “It’s water under the bridge” usually indicates something has been forgiven, but in the case of the Dunkirk Town Board, it is quite literal.

The bridge in question is located by the town hall, where all the town meetings are held, and it is this bridge that has seen more than its fair share of damage.

Highway Superintendent Richard Butts wants to contact the state about the Route 5 water running under the bridge.

“The water runs off under the bridge, into the yard, and down to the creek, leaving tremendous pot holes and freezing all the time,” he said. “This is a 125-foot pipe that goes from point A to point B, and is under Willow Road. We have to work with the state right away.

“I think it should be a state job. It’s their Route 5 water, their runoff. (They) showed me the maps, and the water should be running west, but it is running east,” Butts continued. “A certain engineer had them dig it this way.”

Councilman Robert Penharlow is worried the town will be in trouble if nothing is done about the water.

“I feel we are liable in the area, because of ice and this has been a problem for years. I feel if an incident were to happen, we would be in trouble,” he said. “We should write a formal letter to the county attorney or county highway department on a legal notice of a potential problem we have here. That might get their attention since it is on Route 5, and it is their responsibility if it creates an accident.”

Attorney Jeffrey Passafaro cautioned the board on proceeding with this letter.

“The state has immunity. I would be more inclined to agree with (the board) if there was another entity involved, but the result ends up in the town. The bridge has been difficult all winter, and we all go under there,” he said. “If it was a county road they could work with the state; the state has some responsibility. The railroad is extremely difficult to work with. Even the railroad requires its own permit to anything. Don’t use the word liable, because it is likely to come back and bite the town.”

Supervisor Richard Purol addressed the issue at hand, saying he only wanted to focus on that 125-foot pipe, and not the whole town.

Councilman Henry Walldorff feels this problem needs to be fixed before summer.

Passafaro told the board they could request to work on the right-of-way, but would need permission from the state to do anything with Route 5.

The water wasn’t the only concern on everyone’s mind. Plow damage has been a major problem in the area as well.

“Our plows have done a considerable amount of damage to the area,” Penharlow said. “It looks really bad. They dug it up big time.”

Butts explained the roads are really narrow in the town, and the plows are not supposed to be used on such narrow roads.

A highway department employee has been out fixing the area, but with all the rain, have not been able to put down any topsoil.

Purol wants everything to be taken care of and presentable as soon as possible.

“The gate access to the lake is broken and the fence is plowed into again,” he said. “It all makes us look bad; it’s getting bad; the gate looks terrible.”