03-19-09 - The waste water treatment plant in Hudson must be replaced, whether the city is flush with federal stimulus funds or not.
Mayor Richard Scalera said he believes the City has a good shot at receiving stimulus funding, but regardless of the outcome, the waste water project has to move forward.
On Tuesday, the Common Council took action in that regard, approving the issuance of $8.99 million in bonds to meet State Environmental Facilities Corps (EFC) requirements.
“The fact is we are under consent order, we don’t have an option. DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) is saying we have to do this—your time has come,” said the mayor.
Hudson's forty-year-old waste water treatment plant, which processes a combination of sanitary waste and storm water, has been determined inadequate by DEC, especially during major rainfall events.
Scalera said the City will complete the drawings and design of the nearly $9 million project this year, and the project will be put out to bid in December or early in 2010.
Interim Superintendent of Public Works, Robert Perry, Jr., said on Wednesday that the bonds are an EFC requirement if the City is to borrow the funds from the EFC. "The goal is to borrow the funds and hope to receive 100 percent debt forgiveness or at least 50 percent forgiveness and the rest at zero percent interest," said Perry.
“The minimum amount of grants for these types of projects is 50 percent . . . and they have said we might be eligible for even more than 50 percent,” Scalera said.
The city has been under state order to replace or upgrade its waste water treatment plant, which does not adequately process the City's waste and storm water, particularly during a major rain event.
A meeting Scalera and Perry had with EFC representatives two weeks ago brought to light an omission in the documents submitted to EFC that could have disqualified the City from funding for the project. That omission was immediately rectified, and Scalera reports that EFC representatives have since reviewed the project and said the city was in “good shape.”
“We are in the February 16, 2010, window timeframe, which means we have to have the plan designed and bid and awarded by February 16, 2010, and by doing that, we are eligible for debt forgiveness for the project,” the mayor said.
Just how much debt would be forgiven remains to be determined.
Asked about the fate of the other projects the City is seeking stimulus funding for, Scalera had nothing new to report.
“I haven’t heard anything. I am anxious to see which ones they have identified as possibly fundable,” he said.
The mayor last month proposed five projects for the City, totaling more than $16 million: $9 million to replace the City's forty-year-old waste water treatment plant; $3.2 to $3.6 million to build a new police and court facility; $3.5 to $3.8 million for a parking garage; an unknown amount to replace the Ferry Street bridge; and $375,000 to replace a water main on Green Street.
Scalera reported that officials flat out refused to consider a new building for the police and city court, explaining that the stimulus package will not provide funding for new municipal buildings. The parking garage, which was part of “Plan B” and meant to be an incentive for the county to construct a new building in Hudson to house the Department of Social Services, may not be as critical now that the Board of Supervisors has approved the plan to move DSS and 14 other county agencies out of the City of Hudson to the former Ockawamick School in the Town of Claverack.