New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has included $100 billion in his state budget proposal for infrastructure upgrades. It’s welcome news for an upstate city that has had a year marked by burst pipes and leaking sewage.
Amsterdam Mayor Mike Villa has spent much of his first year in office dealing with the city’s infrastructure issues. For months, the city has been dealing with sewer problems that have leaked countless gallons of untreated sewage into a tributary of the Mohawk River.
“You know it’s under the ground, you don’t see it until it breaks, and repairs are so costly you that you really have a difficult time budgeting for them,” said Villa.
When a sewer line broke near Forest Avenue, Villa enlisted the help of his local state legislators to expedite a $5 million loan to help cover the repair costs.
Villa is optimistic about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to dedicate $100 billion of his state budget plan to infrastructure. Included in that plan is a $2 billion Clean Water fund that “will result in improved and safer municipal drinking water distribution, filtration systems, and wastewater treatment infrastructure.”
The city of Amsterdam will continue to make repairs to the broken lines.
“We have run bypasses and we have reduced the flow significantly since summer so DEC is on board with our plan. We have a plan to address it and replace it and we’ll just continue to monitor. We did get some funding for beneath-the-pavement monitoring, which will assist our sewer pump stations. So we’re on the right path, we just have a ways to go,” said Villa.
Villa said the city will continue to “utilize” state representatives Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara and Senator George Amedore to get the best funding possible.
After the governor’s budget announcement, Santabarbara announced legislation that would establish an “Emergency Water Infrastructure Repair Fund.” The fund, which would be maintained by the Environmental Facilities Corporation, would be created by diverting 10 percent of the so-called New York State Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.
Santabarbara says even though the dollars are in place for large projects, often municipalities can’t get the money on their own fast enough. The Assemblyman noted that the pipes that burst in Amsterdam were over 100 years old.
“The chances of seeing this happening again is likely. Maybe not in Amsterdam, but in other communities, we may see this happen again where funds are going to be needed much quicker. This bill, this proposal that I hope would be included in the state budget, would allow for that expedited process where we can put some money aside so cities like Amsterdam can access that funding to make emergency repairs when they’re needed and not have to draw money from other parts of the budget or go back to the state and ask for an emergency process,” said Santabarbara.
In other news, more than $13 million in state funding was recently announced to improve bridges and culverts in the Mohawk Valley. Amsterdam is to receive $33,000. The money from the state’s BRIDGE program will help make improvements to the Forest Avenue Bridge.