Water and sewer issues top Middletown agenda

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The Middletown Town Board received good news from its Water Superintendent and took steps to move forward with the New Kingston Sewer District when it met on July 10.

Water Superintendent Bob Payne notified the Board at its June 12 meeting that there was a significant leak in the Arkville Water District. On July 10, Payne reported to the board that the leak had been fixed.

“We’re doing great since we’ve fixed the leak. Apparently, that’s been a leak for a long time because when we took over from [former Water Superintendent] Terry Johnson the average flow was 75,000 [gallons] a day, which was too much obviously. Since we fixed that leak we’re at 23,000 [gallons] a day average flow. So, it’s been leaking for years,” Payne said.

Board members audibly reacted to the news in disbelief. The leak is said to have occurred near the crossroads by Titan Drilling in the hamlet. As the work to fix the leak took place on a county road, Middletown will be tasked with repairing any damage done to that road in the process. Supervisor Pat Davis instructed Payne to stay on top of any necessary repairs, but was happy that the leak was fixed. “So, we really brought that flow down,” Davis said.

“Big time,” Payne said.

“More than half,” Davis said.

“We’re at a third of what regular was two years ago,” said Payne.

Sewer vote challenged

The next issue the board dealt with was that of the New Kingston Sewer District. The Board voted unanimously to approve a resolution that would adopt and establish the district and allow the project to be move into the next phase of design. The resolution will also allow for money to be spent that could not otherwise be used until voters gave their approval.

“The vote went through by a large margin,” said Davis of the 26-4 vote on June 29.

Threats of Article 78

The floor was then opened to the public for comment and outspoken critic of the sewer district Steve Finkle wasted little time.

“Despite the current vote, to me, it ain’t over until it’s over,” Finkle said.

Town Attorney Carey Wagner said to Finkle, “If you want to contest the vote there’s a formal process,” adding, “The board can’t say we’re going to ignore the vote, the vote happened.”

“I can file an Article 78,” Finkle said. An Article 78 allows for actions taken by administrative bodies to be challenged after all other appeals have been exhausted.

Finkle added, “People voted that were not allowed to vote.”

Cassie Palen, a New Kingston resident, said her daughter is on her deed and thus, should have been allowed to vote. Cassie, her husband and daughter all applied for absentee ballots on the same day, but while she and her husband received them, her daughter did not and was not able to vote. The board noted that the county sends absentee ballots out, not the town.

NBT may tow

Palen shifted gears and relayed news she had heard regarding parking in the NBT Bank parking lot in Margaretville. She reported an NBT official coming into the Margaretville Auxiliary Thrift Shop and complaining that the bank was empty though the parking lot was full.

“They legally can tow and they said they’re going to tow without warning,” Palen said, adding, “They’re not going to give warnings, they’re just going to tow.”

New transfer station tractor

The last business of the night was to pass a resolution to seek a bond for the purchase of a tractor to be used at the Middletown Transfer Station. The tractor costs approximately $76,000 and if purchased all at once, it would overwhelm the transfer station’s meager budget that is made up mostly of salaries and would make it difficult for the town to stay under the two percent tax cap.

“We’re trying to do some very clever money management,” Davis said of the bond. He added, “We’re trying to be smart about what we’re doing with the funds but also provide for the needs and services for the community on this.”

The board noted the old tractor, no longer suitable, will be sold within the next six months to help defray the costs for the new tractor. Transfer Station Manager Roger Davis travelled to Oneonta to inspect the tractor, saying, “Drove it and checked it out. For all intents and purposes it looks like it’ll be fine.” adding, “It’s a nice little machine. A lot better than what we have now,” Davis said.

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