By Terry Duffy
Money issues, including water line replacements in the town and Power Authority hydropower rebates to residents, were among the notable discussion items at Monday's Lewiston Town Board work session.
"Mr. (Mike) Townsend (of the town Water Department) brought to my attention an issue that's been plaguing the town water lines for a few years," Town Supervisor Steve Broderick said. He was referring to a July 2014 letter to then Supervisor Dennis Brochey and the Town Board outlining a host of water pressure concerns, both in the northern areas of Lewiston and above the hill in the Mayflower/Sweethome roads area.
"It was a letter sent out to the supervisor in 2014. ... It really wasn't addressed," Broderick said. "This is what we have to work on in the future; we have some water issues in the town."
"In the letter ... the issues were Creek Road, north of Pletcher by the school, Lower River Road in the Morgan Farms subdivision, also the Mayflower area," Townsend said.
He apprised the board of three partnered areas in need - Lower River Road, from Chicora Road to Pletcher Road, where he recommended replacement of a 12-inch water line (replacing the 6-inch cast iron line); and Morgan Drive, from West Park Drive to Lower River Road, replacing a 12-inch line tie-in to the existing 12-inch line that comes in across the Robert Moses Parkway.
"That would supply sufficient water down River Road," Townsend said. He explained that would enable the town to abandon an existing 12-inch cast iron line that brings Niagara Falls water up North Fifth Street to Vrooman Drive and out to Youngstown.
Other areas in need, Townsend said, include the Mayflower-Sweethome Road subdivision area - a 6-inch cast iron line that has insufficient flow for fire hydrants - and Creek Road, from Pletcher Road to the Town of Porter line - an 8-inch line with fire flow issues. Townsend told the board of engineering studies done earlier when the town was considering a recreation complex on the Lewiston-Porter campus. The studies recommended installing a 12-inch line in that area to meet growing water needs.
When asked "how soon" to get the water lines replaced, Townsend replied, "Yesterday." He cited a growing need for service - existing lines roughly 80 years old, coupled with new developments in the northern part of the town and in the Lower River Road area on the need for the 12-inch line.
Townsend said affected residences include 90 homes in the Morgan Drive area and 80 homes on Lower River Road. He said the issue involves insufficient water pressure on lines servicing residences, particularly when fire hydrants in the area are used.
"This has been an ongoing issue," Broderick said. "I've been getting the calls. We need to address this."
He discussed a replacement schedule under a five-year plan, where water line replacements would be done in phases. The first phase was said to involve some 3.8 miles of water line replacements - which Broderick called "a big project."
"The whole purpose ... was to make the board aware of it. We need to sit down with the engineer, the attorneys and figure out how we are going to do it," he said.
As to cost, the first phase (covering 3.8 miles) of what the town envisions as a three-phase project was projected to be in the range of $4.8 million. Funding options included the possibility of the town issuing bond anticipation notes, plus the use of town Highway Department labor to lower the cost.
No time frame was given. Townsend said the Water Department is currently tackling other projects - notably an ongoing need of replacing non-working Badger water meter computer read units in residences. That work continues.
Look for more board discussions on this topic in months ahead.
•The board reviewed the particulars for issuing hydropower rebates monies to Lewiston residents. Following discussions with New York Power Authority officials, the town was authorized for $1 million in funding to issue one-time rebates of $100 to $150 per household to all users in the town and village, to settle the town-NYPA electrical low-cost power reimbursements benefit package to residents that dates back to 2007.
"This is a one-time payment," Town Finance Director Martha Blazick said. "This will close the residents' payments (with NYPA). It includes all residential users in the town and village."
The board approved allowing National Grid to begin the logistical process of researching residential users, past bills and how much to be rebated to each customer. An outside firm is expected to be retained to issue the one-time rebate checks.
•The Town Board discussed procedures with regard to posting meeting documents on the town website, www.townoflewiston.us.
"The Town Board will have to determine what is 'practicable,' " Attorney Brian Seaman said. He told the board its ultimate determination on what to avail - resolutions, local laws, policies and/or amendments, other town matters, agency records and Freedom of Information matters - could be "a massive undertaking."
Seaman, the Town Board and Town Clerk/Tax Collector Donna Garfinkel are expected to be further reviewing the particulars on this over coming months.
•With regard to enacting a new town policy of public speaking, Broderick said he has been researching those policies in various municipalities, noting Elma as an example, and said he would be finalizing a procedure in Lewiston to allow for a three- to five-minute speaking forum at board meetings.
The matter is expected to be finalized for presentation at the April 25 board meeting.