Supes OK diverting sewage to Greenport

HUDSON–The Columbia County Board of Supervisors has adopted a water treatment upgrade plan that will include building a pipeline and pumping stations on property along Route 66.

The Columbia County Wastewater Treatment Facility (WTF) serves developed lots in and near the Gerald R. Simmons Commercial Park near the Columbia County Airport in West Ghent. Built in 1993, the treatment facility would need substantial reconstruction to continue functioning. Its discharges have been failing to meet State Department of Environmental Conservation standards.

An engineering study conducted over the past year has determined that the best alternative would be to close the facility and send the wastewater to the Town of Greenport Sewage Treatment Plant, which has the capacity to handle the additional input. The County Board of Supervisors formally adopted this plan at the June 14 meeting.

To get to the wastewater to the Greenport plant will require a pipeline and the plan includes the pipe and four pumping stations along state Route 66, some of them on or near private property. Construction of the project will cause some disruption of traffic on Route 66 and will also affect about 30 properties, according to people who attended the meeting.

Supervisor Ron Knott (R-Stuyvesant), who chairs the board’s Public Works Committee, explained by telephone June 21 that the new pipeline would go “mostly on New York State right of way,” but would cross many properties. In many cases, pipes could be installed via horizontal drilling, which opens the hole for the pipe underground while leaving the surface of the land intact. But the pumping stations will require small plots of land, perhaps 10 feet by 10 feet.

Mr. Knott said Route 66 is legally 66 feet wide, stretching 33 feet on each side of its center line. But over the years some surveys for property owners have portrayed it as extending only 25 feet from the center line. Some of the new pipeline, he said, will go through land between that lies between 25′ and 33′ from the highway’s center line.

The plan adopted at the June 14 meeting is for use when applying to regulators for permission to proceed with the project and when applying for financing. When it has approvals, Mr. Knott said, the county will contact the affected property owners about easements for construction. In some cases, it may invoke eminent domain.

Among the elements of the plan that can be tweaked before final construction are the sites for the pumping stations. The plan’s map shows proposed locations, but the cooperation of individual property owners may influence the final locations.

The plan calls for opening construction bids at the end of this year, starting construction in June 2018, ending construction in June 2019, and decommissioning the county wastewater treatment plant in November 2019. The plan estimates the project will cost slightly over $8.5 million, excluding parts on the airport, which will come out of the airport’s budget.

Columbia County owns, operates and finances the current wastewater treatment serving the industrial park, according to Mr. Knott. The Town of Greenport is responsible for its sewage facility.

On June 14, right before the official meeting, the Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the plan. Few members of the public came, but those who participated learned that residents of Columbia County Sewer District #1 will have to pay for the construction, even though it can go ahead without their approval.

As the hearing ended Supervisor Matt Murrell (R-Stockport), chairman of the Board of Supervisors, asked, “Are any property owners in the sewer district at this hearing?” Nobody responded. Mr. Murrell repeated his question, with the same result.

Also at the meeting, the Board of Supervisors appointed Robert Gibson commissioner of the Department of Social Services (DSS) for a five-year term beginning June 14, 2017. Mr. Gibson, a lawyer, interacted with DSS in his private practice. This led to more and more involvement with the DSS, and this February he became its acting commissioner. Mr. Gibson graduated from Ichabod Crane High School, SUNY Albany and Albany Law School.

The next full board meeting of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors will be Wednesday, July 12 at 7:30 pm, at 401 State Street in Hudson.

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