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Gouverneur delays approval for state DOT

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GOUVERNEUR — The village Board of Trustees has delayed a decision that would allow the state Department of Transportation to install a closed drainage system under its streets pending more answers on why it cannot use the same pipeline and to get a better estimate of village costs if it piggybacks improvements onto the Route 11 project.

As part of a $9 million reconstruction of a portion of Route 11 through the village, DOT wants to install storm sewers under North Gordon, Trinity and Austin streets. The village wants to get in on that as part of a solution to deal with its long-standing problem of sanitary and stormwater separation, especially since its system has handled runoff from Route 11 for years.

“I think it’s absurd that they’re not going to accept runoff from the village parking lot,” Planning Board Chairwoman Diane L. Monroe said at a board meeting Tuesday. “Grease is grease.”

Trustee Roger A. LaPierre agreed.

“I think we should fight for it,” he said.

The village was told Nov. 16, 2010, that the state could not accept village stormwater into the line because of water quality and contamination issues, DOT spokesman Michael R. Flick said.

However, the village could install a parallel line in the same trench that could cut its price for the cost of the pipe, Mr. Flick said.

The village is working on a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order to correct sewage overflows caused because its antiquated system combines snowmelt and rain with untreated waste, which overloads manholes. The village is developing a long-term capital project and has already started a cleanup and maintenance program, which has resulted in no overflows in the last two months, and is drafting a schedule of equipment replacement.

“We’re not just blowing smoke here,” Mr. LaPierre said. “We’re going in the right direction.”

The village recently learned it was awarded a $2 million Green Innovation Grant through the state Environmental Facilities Corp. and is in line for other funding. However, it has little spare change, as the total project cost could total $6 million, and there are other ongoing problems with its water and lighting systems.

Mr. Flick declined to estimate the cost to the village of other improvements it could make to water and sewer lines while the road is torn up. DOT estimated the cost several years ago at $890,000 for water line improvements and $80,000 for sewer, but Mr. Flick said the price tag has dropped significantly because of grants the village has received and a partial fix to improve water flow to the Kinney Drugs distribution center will take place before the DOT project begins next year.

The village considers the work that will help Kinney a top priority, said Trustee Ronald P. McDougall, who has asked that it be part of each village board agenda.

“We’re moving forward on this thing,” Mr. McDougall said. “It’s very important for our largest private-sector employer.”

Other businesses are also important in the scheme of the DOT project, including the Casablanca restaurant, A-Plus Autocare and Richardson Flooring, which all stood to lose access and parking spaces under DOT’s original plan, Mrs. Monroe said,

A turning lane along that section of East Main Street was dropped to accommodate those businesses, Mr. Flick said.

“Given the amount of contact and outreach, we thought it solved the problem,” he said.

However, Mrs. Monroe said the public should be able to weigh in on the changes but DOT has no more plans for informational forums.

“Any significant change now would push the job back,” Mr. Flick said.

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