Village to Foot Entire Bill for Wastewater Treatment Plant

By Jann Wiswall

The Village of Ellicottville’s Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) for a state grant to offset the cost of building a new wastewater treatment plant was rejected by the state’s CFA review committee last month, leaving the village with the difficult challenge of paying for the entire $4 million-plus project through increased sewer bills for village residents.

The new wastewater treatment plant is part of a consent order (a mandate) placed on the village by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and involves extensive electrical upgrades, new equipment and new systems.

The village put tremendous effort into its grant application, including hiring a consultant and engaging the services of the village’s engineering firm, Nussbaumer & Clarke, to prepare all of the engineering design, technical and support materials. The team, which included Mayor Charles Coolidge and Village Engineer Mike Smith (who is CEO of Nussbaumer & Clarke), presented its plan in person to the CFA committee.

Smith said that, among other important considerations, the village pointed out that upgrading the system as required by the DEC will significantly support future development projects in Ellicottville and, therefore, the entire region.

Smith said that the committee will not reveal how it scored the project against competing applications. However, he said he suspects that a number of factors played into its decision, including the trend away from funding infrastructure projects in favor of projects that more immediately create new jobs.

During its meeting on Monday, Sept. 8, Coolidge and the board expressed obvious frustration about the decision. Coolidge noted that “Ellicottville isn’t perceived to be a community in need by the state or the county” and, therefore, often is denied grants.

Smith estimated the total cost to the village will be $180,000 per year for 30 years based on a $4 million project cost, noting that the state is offering a significantly subsidized interest rate on bonds. Smith said he will provide a detailed analysis of what this means to residents at the next board meeting. He also suggested that costs can be contained by keeping “a tight rein on capital costs and the plant’s operation and maintenance.”

In other business, Smith said the DOT’s HoliMont sidewalk project is moving slowly. The first stage of the project — extension of the water line along Route 242 — has been delayed by “conflicts with the gas company.” Once that is completed, Smith said he has encouraged the DOT to put the reconfiguration of the Fillmore/Elizabeth/Route 219 intersection next on its to-do list. It is not yet known when the rest of the promised project — the actual sidewalk along 242 into the village, and rebuilding the wheelchair ramps and curbs at five intersections along Washington Street — can begin.

Water Line Repairs

The gas company, National Fuel, is also the cause of a delay in repairing a water leak at the intersection of Elk and Elizabeth streets in the village. Several weeks ago, the company was asked to locate its gas lines, which must be done before water repair work can begin. Until that leak is fixed, other suspected leaks cannot be precisely located, holding up repairs further up Elk Street and on Mechanic Street. Coolidge asked DPW head Harold Morton to push National Fuel to get this resolved.

Flood Damage Prevention

According to Village Attorney Bob Simon, the new floodplain maps for the Village and Town of Ellicottville that are under review until February will trigger the need for an amendment to a local law on flood damage prevention. The amendment must address a number of issues, such as revised first-floor elevation requirements. Simon said he would prepare a draft of the amendment language for the board to review and put to village residents for adoption.

Fall Festival Planning

Special Events Committee Chair Patra Lowes reported that her committee is working through all of its issues related to the upcoming Fall Festival. Police Officer in Charge Don Auge has met with all other area police agencies to work out a coverage schedule and the costs of police support for the event.

Lowes asked DPW head Morton to carefully track his department’s labor and materials costs for the upcoming Rock n’ Roll Weekend (Sept. 19-21). She said the committee wants to get a sense of the actual costs of major events to the village as a whole in order to be able to pass on some of those costs to event sponsors in the future.

1887 Building Land Swap

Krog Corporation has asked the village for the deed to the land directly beneath the 1887 Building. The developer plans to construct an underground garage beneath the building to provide parking for the building’s future condominium owners.

Attorney Simon explained that the board could approve the action if it determined that there was “no public necessity or need for the property to be conveyed.” In exchange, Krog Corp. has offered the village the deed to some land surrounding the building.

Board member Bob Brogcinski asked if the conveyance needs to be approved by village residents. Simon replied that, legally, the answer is no.

The board approved the motion to make the exchange by a vote of four ayes to one nay (Brogcinski).

The next meeting of the Village of Ellicottville board was rescheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 8, due to the Columbus Day holiday.