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The Pipes Of Troy

Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC)

Thanks to frigid temperatures that froze supply lines, some Troy residents had to do without water for 11 straight days. The water woes may have eroded public confidence in city leadership.

After going without running water for just a few days, residents began complaining to city officials and local representatives.   "I think we got about 60 phone calls from people with frozen pipes, and there may have been as many as a hundred, because a lot of people don't call in to report it, they'll just call the plumber, get it unfrozen and go on with life."   Troy City Council member at large Lynn Kopka says from research she has conducted so far, thawing pipes is not the city's responsibility.   "I believe that all of the pipes that were frozen are now unfrozen."

Among impacted residents: A family with three young children and a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy. No water for drinking, cooking, bathing...  Kopka says she asked the Conference of Mayors for information:   "When I called them they said, ‘Oh your commissioner of public works, public utilities is on, he explained it’ and he was dead on correct."

Last week Mayor Lou Rosamilia  told local media he couldn't legally thaw the pipes because it was against the city charter, then said he'd work the city council to change the law. The situation deteriorated to the point where the Rensselaer County Legislature passed a resolution calling on the city to thaw the pipes, County Chairman Martin Reid telling Time Warner Cable News:  "All they need to do is have the city engineer declare an emergency and they can hire people to come out right away. There's no need for a charter change."

Rosamilia did return call after call seeking comment, although a spokesman twice emailed a brief statement that read "This unprecedented situation has been very difficult for me personally. But, I must separate my own feelings about these events with the city's legal and fiduciary responsibilities."

What's been perceived as a faltering step on the part of Rosamilia in dealing with the frozen pipes is already having political repercussions: The Times Union reports Democrats are getting fidgety waiting to see if Rosamilia will announce he's running for a second term. Several possible candidates have already emerged, including 2011 contender former council member Carmella Mantello, a Republican.     "I've really never seen this lack of leadership that I've seen over the past few years. The people of Troy deserve more. We've been in headlines for the past 11 days, but more importantly, we have people, taxpayers, who are not receiving basic city services. This is a public safety issue, a public health issue..."

Mantello went on to say "real" leaders would have addressed the water issue immediately. She has yet to formally toss her hat in the ring. Others mentioned as potential combatants for the mayor's chair hail from various political parties: Council President Rodney Wiltshire, Ernest Everett, former Councilman Mark McGrath  and former Deputy Mayor Jim Conroy.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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