Last night's Common Council meeting had to be two meetings rolled into one, and Council president Don Moore accomplished the feat by not entertaining comments from the public--at least not when the most controversial subject on the agenda was being considered: the resolution to declare the proposed sewer separation project a Type 2 action. Moore made it clear at the outset that this was an opportunity for the aldermen to ask questions of DPW superintendent Rob Perry and representatives from Delaware Engineering (the only recognized experts present), that the only resolution to be considered was the one declaring the project at Type 2 action, and that he himself had determined a Type 2 designation to be most appropriate.
Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) early on asked the question, "If this project were complete and there were a storm, what would happen?" Perry responded, "It would be the same as now," which begs the question, "Why bother spending $600,000?"
As the conversation proceeded, Perry modified his statement, reported in the Register-Star, that the 525 feet of new pipe will be empty until other storm water sections--sections that include treatment components--are in place. Tonight, Perry said the new pipe--the "storm line"--"would be dry until there's a storm event," which sounds very much as if untreated storm water would be directed into North Bay, despite Perry's earlier protestations to the contrary.
Perry maintained that the "overflow from the [waste water treatment] plant [during significant storm events] is significantly dirtier than untreated storm water." The representative from Delaware Engineering made the (obvious) point that no one would design a system that was combined today." Moore reeled off the names of a number of river cities, among them Poughkeepsie and Beacon, "that are building systems like this and are considering them Type 2." There was talk of ratios of storm water to sewage, effluent and settling, Hudson's SPDES permit and the consent order, and hydraulic separators to be installed at some unknown future date.
Moore ignored Timothy O'Connor's raised hand, and when one of the aldermen suggested he should recognize O'Connor, Moore said, in effect, "If I let him speak, I'll have to let others speak." Getting through the twenty-two item agenda as quickly as possible was clearly the goal.
When it came time to vote on the resolution that's been knocking around for four months, everyone voted to declare the project a Type 2 action, requiring no environmental review, except the two First Ward aldermen: Nick Haddad and Rick Rector. Moore didn't want to bother having the city clerk calculate the weighted vote, since he was confident the resolution had passed, but it was done anyway.
When the result of the vote was announced, O'Connor told the Council, "You were lied to," and left the room. The ever affable Alderman "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) replied, "Good night, Tim. Don't come back again."
There's lots more to tell about the meeting that lasted for more than two hours. This is just the beginning.
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