Today is Earth Day, first celebrated forty-five years ago. On April 22, 1970, millions took to the streets to protest the deterioration of the environment and to demonstrate in support of pursuing a healthy, sustainable world. It was fitting then, that on the eve of Earth Day 2015, North Bay enjoyed a little victory.
The Common Council was expected to vote last night on the resolution declaring the proposed sewer separation project a Type II Action, requiring no environmental review. In anticipation of the vote, Timothy O'Connor had delivered the Protect North Bay petition, with 416 signatures, to the aldermen. When the time came to consider the resolution, Common Council president Don Moore moved to postpone voting on it until June 16 and to use the intervening time to pursue an environmental review.
Before the Council voted on Moore's motion, there was discussion about who would carry out the environmental review and how it would be paid for. City attorney Carl Whitbeck opined that six weeks was adequate time to do an environmental study "if Delaware Engineering is going to do it." Audience member Nick Zachos asked if having Delaware Engineering do the environmental review wouldn't be a conflict of interest, since they have been hired to do the sewer separation project. They have also appeared at two Council meetings defending the position that the project is a Type II Action, which does not require environmental review. O'Connor offered the opinion that Saratoga Associates, now doing the feasibility study on the Dunn warehouse, would be a perfect candidate. Moore suggested that it would be good to get two cost estimates, and it was decided a special meeting would have to be held to approve the amount to be spent and to authorize the mayor to enter into a contract.
When the time came to vote on pursuing an environmental review, Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward) said that he felt enough time had been spent on the issue before voting no. His colleague from the Fifth Ward, Robert "Doc" Donahue followed suit. The rest of the aldermen present--Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) was absent--and Council president Moore voted yes, and the motion passed with 1,205 affirmative votes--just 190 votes more than what are needed for a simple majority. The vote is another example of the weirdness of the weighted vote: eight people vote for a measure, two people vote against it, and the percentage of affirmative votes is not an overwhelming 80 percent but a nail-biting 59 percent.
COPYRIGHT 2015 CAROLE OSTERINK