FULTON — Renovations to Fulton’s wastewater treatment system moved one step closer Tuesday at the Fulton Common Council meeting.

Representatives David Powers and Eric Pond of Barton and Loguidice, the engineering firm contracted to construct the renovations, appeared before the council to review any possible environmental impacts the renovations might cause.

The firm considered how the project might impact land, surface and ground water, flooding, foliage, wildlife, air, agricultural resources, aesthetics and general disturbances.

Powers said any impact would be minimal and not long standing, and that the company would do everything it could to mitigate any impacts.

Questions posed during the subsequent public hearing from Frank Castiglia Jr. and David Fares included bond costs involved with the project as well as the system’s volume capabilities.

Fulton Mayor Deana Michaels replied the project would cost $33,200,000 if in fact no other grant money were applied for. However, she said that would not be the case and grants will be sought.

Michaels said in order to apply for the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grant (WIIA), the city must be willing to bond for the project so that it qualifies to apply for the grant.  

“WIIA will not allow us to apply for these grants if we don’t first say we’re willing to go out there and seek the money for our piece of the projects,” Michaels said. “It’s a four- to five-year window we’re looking at to say ‘OK, we’re going to be prepared now,’ but none of this would take place until the end of the project when we come to those final numbers.”

Michaels said, “There is no way, shape or form we want a $33 million project that we have to pay for and we would never do that to the taxpayers. That’s why we will offset this with infrastructure money and other grants, WIIA is just one of them.

“I want this on the record,” Michaels said. “If this project is going to cost the taxpayers over $33 million, we’re not going to do it.”

She said, “We have a list of grants we’ve applied for to help offset costs. The worst case scenario if it’s a $33 million, that’s the full scope of the project with multiple avenues for finance support through grants and infrastructure monies now available at the federal level to help support that as well.”

Michaels said the city started this process in advance, knowing there would be money available, and anyone seeking it would have to go through these steps to get it.

“We wanted to be ahead of the game,” Michaels said. “We wanted to be able to show we were in need of the money before everyone else started asking for it.”

Pond said that the WIIA grant could be maxed out to the sum of $5 million.

Michaels also added WIIA hasn’t been offered in the last two years. However, when the city learned it would be available to apply for they only had about two months to get the application process done.

Fares questioned the capacity of the system, to which Pond explained the system was designed for an industrial presence that no longer exists in the city. 

At its present capacity it could service an additional 10,000 homes. Pond also said the new renovations are in expectation of the Department of Conservation (DEC) tightening the belt on environmental permits in years to come and to keep future costs down.

Michaels further stated the city could save money on sludge dumping by drying out the sludge before transporting it to the landfill. She explained when the sludge gets wet, it gets heavier and when the landfill weighs it, it costs more to dump.

“If we build a place to dry it out it will help us save money on the tipping fees,” she said.

Pond agreed saying it is very expensive to “throw out water.”

Castiglia said he remembered a wastewater treatment plant bought by Operation Oswego County some years ago and was worried it could get taken away from the city if it gets the grant to improve the facility. He added he felt the city should get out of the wastewater treatment plant business and have it privatized.

Michaels said it’s a new day in Fulton, and gone are the days of taking Fulton for granted.

“We are in a different day and age where taking away from the city of Fulton is no longer going to be as easy as it was years ago,” Michaels said. “We’ve been taken advantage of long enough and Fulton has been on the receiving end of poor decisions. Fulton is long overdue and well-deserving of better business decisions on our behalf and I think that’s the direction we’re trying to move in.” 

The council voted for the issuance of bonds for the wastewater treatment system and authorized the mayor to sign the New York State WIIA application.

In other business, the council:

• Authorized the mayor to sign for the Environmental Restoration aid.

• Rescinded Resolution 15-1-2021 – not to grant OH Properties Inc., a Special Use Permit.

• Voted to advertise for a public hearing for a Special Use Permit for OH Properties, Inc.

• Authorized to execute lease quote documents in order to lease two vehicles from Enterprise Car Rental.

• Authorized to buy two new digital message boards with ARPA funding.

• Authorized to appoint Jeffery Bliss to the Planning Commission with the term to expire on Feb. 14, 2022. 

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