Mar 14, 2022
Douglas Essek
With another recent mishap adding a sense of urgency, Fredonia’s officials intend to get moving on water infrastructure work. However, they had to table a measure on a request for proposals last week, because the resolution wasn’t clear enough.
There was broad consensus at the Board of Trustees meeting that work on the village dam and spillway needs to happen first, and an overhaul of water mains should happen after that.
There was a measure on the agenda with language such as, “an engineering assessment report pursuant to New York State regulations” and “proposals prior to entering into any public work contract.” It did not mention the dam or spillway — or any water infrastructure work at all.
“Three or four months from now if you’re reading it over, you don’t know what the project is,” said Trustee Jon Espersen. “Perhaps we can add the goals that are spelled out in the Request for Proposals in the resolution.”
Travis Gordon, a village consultant who has been working on water infrastructure planning, said there were actually two RFPs in the works, one for just the dam/spillway and the other for further water infrastructure work.
Espersen said the resolution should include specific language to explain the point of the engineering study.
“We can table this for tonight. We can modify the resolution. We could modify the RFP (on the dam and spillway) to satisfy all the questions and concerns,” Mayor Douglas Essek said. “To get this moving forward I could absolutely call a special meeting late this week or early next week,” to pass a modified measure. The trustees agreed to his proposal.
There was another discussion soon after on the other RFP, for general water and wastewater system infrastructure work.
“We just had a large water main break last week. I received numerous calls,” Essek said. “We are still having major problems. We were very close to having a boil-water order… Previous to that, with the excessive snowmelt and runoff, with the inch or two of rain we had a couple if weeks ago, we also have numerous storm and sanitary issues that need to be addressed.”
Trustee James Lynden criticized the RFP. “We can’t meet all of these goals all at once… we should be very focused on our next step and go out for an RFP on that next step, not a whole bunch of steps and have studies we can’t complete.”
Essek said it only included water main, storm water and sewer assessment, an interconnect with Dunkirk, and additional water storage.
“It may not say we do everything all at once,” he said. “I can tell you, these are projects that have been needed for the last bunch of decades that the village of Fredonia has been kicking the can down the road, and we’re running into problems now where were going to face some severe consequences or disasters if we don’t address these moving forward.”
“It is a little bit broad because we’re not focusing in on one specific project, but I think getting this overall view is very important for establishing a five, 10-year plan for the village on what we are going to be doing,” said Trustee Nicole Siracuse. “Not just the next thing, but two things from there.”
Essek said the board should use federal infrastructure funding on engineering studies and future work.
“This is the time to capitalize on getting grants for infrastructure projects that the government is going to provide partial, if not full, funding for,” the mayor stated.
Espersen expressed frustration that three previous water system studies “all have different outcomes. Nobody agrees on the best way to move forward.”
Lynden said he was concerned that the RFP made no mention of the village reservoir, which studies show needs to be dredged. He also worried about cost, stating that grants would not pay for everything.
Essek suggested that trustees review the RFP, contact department heads to get their input and get in touch with Gordon so he can make changes. Trustee Michael Bird asked department heads to submit lists of priorities.
The mayor said he was tired of delays. He told all gathered to make their recommendations and inform Gordon as soon as possible.
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