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LeRay residents dissatisfied with waterline project delay

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BLACK RIVER — About 30 residents on Howe Street in the town of LeRay have waited all summer to have their houses connected to a new waterline so they can restore their torn-up front lawns.

But the project has been put on the back burner and the homeowners are voicing their complaints to the town.

The project, which is being completed by a ground crew from North Country Contractors LLC of Calcium, “is taking much longer than they told us,” said Jennifer J. Dindl-Neff, a LeRay Town Council member who lives on Howe Street.

The hook-ups are part of the final leg of a $7.7 million waterline that will provide service for 523 properties in the town. About 90 percent of the project is completed, town officials say.

Mrs. Dindl-Neff said that in May, workers claimed the project would be completed in two weeks.

The work still hasn’t been completed.

“It’s summer and we want to mow our yards, but there are a lot of rocks that sit on top of the ground,” she said.

Jeffrey E. Proulx, the co-owner of North Country Contractors who is leading the project, declined to say whether the work crews had been diverted elsewhere. While aware of Howe Street residents’ concerns, he said he can manage the project the way he wants as long as it is completed in the fall.

“I have a contract with the town, and I don’t have any specific deadlines for how I proceed,” Mr. Proulx said. “I expect to have everything done before the snow flies, and as long as I stay on the contract timeline, I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Work on Howe Street has taken much longer than other segments of the large project, he said, because most houses in areas other than Howe Street were connected individually to well systems, which simplifies the installation.

In the case of Howe Street, he said, the new water main and soil samples from the site needed to be tested separately from the rest of the project and approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation before workers could begin installing lateral lines connecting to houses. He said the goal is to have the street done by the middle of the fall but would not be more specific.

“Some people had their lawns torn up for a full year, but these people have only had it for the summer,” he said. “And the approval process for this type of project can sometimes take six to eight months to complete.”

Town Supervisor Ronald C. Taylor downplayed residents’ concerns, pointing out that the project still is on schedule.

“Residents are concerned it’s not getting done in a timely fashion because they’ve sent crews to other areas that were working on the restoration,” he said. “But this section has taken longer to complete, and the contractor has told us residents should have their lawns back by September.”

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