November 18, 2009


Council funds $3,000 archaeological study

First step in berm project at city Water Works to mitigate Otter Creek flooding

Staff Reporter

The Common Council took the first step toward eventually building a flood-control berm at the city Water Works as a way to stem periodic flooding on the city’s west side.
Aldermen voted 6-0 Tuesday night to spend $3,000 on a phase I archaeological study, a step required by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation.
Amanda Barber, director of the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, told the council that additional permits would be required along the way, along with a potential phase II study. She could not provide a definite cost estimate for the second study, as its scope would be largely determined by the results of the first one.
“It’s harder to ballpark the cost of the phase II, but it may be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range,” Barber said. “It won’t be known until we take a couple of steps forward.”
Bryan Gazda, city director of administration and finance, said the $3,000 would come out of a $61,000 allocation for the project in the current budget. He estimated the entire project could cost in the range of $110,000 to $130,000, “barring any unknowns that may pop up,” and added that funds could be available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Barber said phase I would likely be completed sometime in December. Meanwhile, CCSWD will pursue a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the overall project on the assumption that funding for the entire project will be secured.
“A DEC permit is required because work is needed to augment the flow of Otter Creek into a retention area,” Barber said. “We still need to determine whether Army Corps of Engineers permits are needed for the stream disturbance and the berm itself. There’s still a lot of leg work to be done.”
The earthen berm would run through the middle of the Water Works and would be designed to facilitate the natural occurrence of flood waters flowing to a low-lying area that is currently not easily accessible. Construction could start this summer, if the archaeological studies and permit application processes proceed smoothly, Barber said.
Alderman Clay Benedict (D-2nd Ward) read an e-mail from Brenda DeRusso, the county’s assistant coordinator of fire and emergency management, stating that the county’s flood mitigation plan would be completed no later than May 31, 2010. DeRusso estimated that for every $1 spent on flood mitigation, $5 would be saved on post-flood recovery efforts.
Also Tuesday, the council directed its lawyer, Lawrence Knickerbocker, to draw up a formal resolution to set the registration fees for the rental housing permit program. Beginning in 2010, city landlords would be required to register their properties with the Code Enforcement Department.
Those registering between Jan. 1 and April 30 would pay a $60 fee and those registering between May 3 and July 31 would pay $80. Beginning Aug. 2, landlords would have to pay the $80 plus $50 per business day, up to the date they register their rental properties.
The council will vote on the fees at its next regular meeting on Dec. 1.
Aldermen voted to award two bids for fire department equipment. One, for self-contained breathing equipment, was granted to Rochester-based DiVal Safety Equipment for $228,000. The second, for personal protection gear, went to Jerome Fire Equipment of Clay for 50 suits at $1,286 each.
This was not the lowest bid for the suits, but Chief Dennis Barron said the lower bidder did not include the proper mechanisms for attaching various items of equipment to the suits.
In other action, the aldermen unanimously approved three appointments:
- Jane Snell to the Cortland Housing Authority to complete the term of John Phillips, which ends on May 31, 2011;
- Robert J. Spitzer to the Planning Commission to complete the term of Jack Carr, which expires on Jan. 31, 2012; and
- Mary Lou Pai as commissioner of deeds.
The council also unanimously passed a resolution awarding the East End Neighborhood Community Development Block Grant Income Property Housing Rehabilitation Program to Thoma Development Consultants.
In their ward reports, all the councilors present reported getting heavy constituent feedback regarding the elimination of school crossing guards in next year’s budget. Aldermen Chuck Hamilton and Susan Feiszli were absent Tuesday night.
The Common Council next meets at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1.


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