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Hidy hopes to move ahead on Highland Road project

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MASSENA - Village officials hope to give the go-ahead Tuesday evening on the much-delayed, much-debated project to replace aging water lines near Highland Road.

At the last village Board of Trustees meeting, village officials asked Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad to bring to the board figures on the cost of replacing the pipe if the work were done in-house utilizing DPW crews and the town’s Highway Department. Mr. Fayad estimates the cost of the piping and other materials to be close to $100,000, though how the village will pay for that remains uncertain.

Mayor James F. Hidy hopes the board will decide on a means to fund the work - the question that’s caused controversy among residents and officials of the town and village. He said the board will consider adding new fees for village residents and ratepayers in that area to fund the work and didn’t rule out the option of paying for the work from the suplus funds.

“We’ll do whatever we can for the best interest of the residents of that area. We’ve got some options, and we’re going to look at all of them,” he said.

Ratepayers along that pipe on Old Orchard and Leslie roads are charged a monthly village water bill, but their homes lie nearly a mile outside the village. A 50-year-old agreement extended the village water system to that section of the town.

Residents near the pipe’s dead end began experiencing water issues a couple of years ago. The water was drinkable but looked bad and caused problems for laundry. In the meantime, DPW has allowed the pipe’s end to leak to prevent the homeowners from receiving rusty water. Mr. Fayad has estimated the pipe could lose more than 200,000 gallons of water per month.

Mr. Hidy would like to move ahead with the project in order to complete the work during the warm weather this year. He’s previously expressed frustration with the project’s repeated delays and a desire to have the pipe repaired as soon as possible.

Mr. Fayad estimates the project would take three weeks to a month to complete, if the work is handled by the village’s DPW and town’s Highway Department employees. He said crews would lay the new pipe before removing the existing pipe in an effort to reduce the impact on residents’ water. He expects the water to be shut off for “half a day.”

In February, the board defeated a proposal to establish new water rates for village residents and town residents who use the system near Highland Road, outside the village, to cover the proposed project’s $245,000 cost. The estimate is based on the cost of hiring a contractor.

Under the proposed plan, all village homeowners would have been billed $8.05 per year for five years, while the homeowners who use that system would have been billed $56.69 per year for five years for the replacement of the pipes. There also would have been a permanent maintenance fee, which would have cost village residents $3.76 per year and residents in the Highland Road area $26.49 per year.

Trustees Francis J. Carvel, Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies and Patricia K. Wilson voted against it.

Mr. Carvel, previously a DPW foreman, opposed it because he said at the time believed the project could be done for much less than $245,000 if DPW did all the work.

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