Councilors give updates on water project

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ROME — Updates were given on the status of the North West Rome Water Expansion Project with current supply chain issues and other components being discussed at Wednesday’s Common Council meeting held in Council Chambers of Rome City Hall.

The meeting opened with Ralph Smaldon, a resident of Rome-Westernville Road, asking about the water line extension on Route 46 that was to be part of the water project, requesting some facts after hearing several rumors from neighboring constituents.

Smaldon asked if a contract had been awarded and if so, who the contractor was for Phase III of the project; whether the extension near his property would be installed first; and if there were piping supply issues, would the contractor need to leave the project and come back.

“I’m curious as to Route 46 and Townline Road. There’s about 10-12 properties there now and I’m wondering from where they left off” in the project, “if that extension will be done first,” said Smaldon. “If they (the contractor) started heading west to get water to Verona, that means I have to wait another year-and-a-half before I get water.”

He continued, “I also heard there’s some supply chain issues with the pipe, but also at our end, smaller pipe (4-inch) will be needed, and I’m hearing that’s available. But I also heard something to the effect they don’t want to get the contractor out there, they start working, and then they need to pack up and leave, and then come back, when the other pipe and materials finally get here.”

Common Council President Pro Tem Kimberly Rogers, Third Ward councilor, told Smaldon during councilor reports that Highlander Construction, of Memphis, N.Y., came in with the low bid and has worked on several jobs within the city, particularly Phase I and II of the water project.

Highlander is “phenomenal to work with — they clean up after themselves every single night, they’re very competent and they’re customer-friendly,” said Rogers. “Local residents can talk to them” in the areas they are working, “and they’ll answer your questions, which is very helpful to the residents.”

Seventh Ward Councilor A. Robert Tracy said councilors had a work session on Monday and met with engineer advisor Dodson & Associates Consulting, of Schenectady.

“One thing emphasized is that we have an experienced contractor who has done a great deal of work with the city in the past and has a reputation for performing quality work in a timely fashion,” said Tracy.

As for the start date of the project, “It’s true about the supply chain issues and for that reason, instead of the normal 45-day period to ask for bids and finalize bids, they said we’re extending that,” the councilor explained. “Normally we expect work to be completed within 750 days for the entire third phase.”

The contractor, “didn’t speak as to if West Rome would be done first or North Rome, but that’s what time (750 days) it would be for Phase III to be completed,” said Tracy. “Supply issues are a concern, but we should be OK with the product we need. Theoretically it may delay the project, but it’s not expected.”

Sixth Ward Councilor Riccardo D. Dursi Jr. said historically, it’s up to the contractor to decide which legs of the project to start first, but after speaking with representatives of Dodson, “I think in light of the fact that we’re hoping it will only need 4-inch pipe to service that area, then it will be more readily available” and done first.

Councilors added that the supply issues lie mainly with 8-inch and 12-inch piping currently.

Phase III faced a number of issues, with easements being one of them, added Fifth Ward Councilor Frank R. Anderson.

We “had to work with property owners to get access to their properties, and progress is being made on that, but we’re not 100% there yet,” Anderson said. “Things like that delay it. You’re correct in the supply chain issues, which is why the council is pushing for the bid process to start — which should have started a long time ago, but we were told we couldn’t until the easement issues were resolved.”

Anderson continued, “The cost of goods also went up. You’ll hear us talk tonight about additional bonding needed for the project because of the supply issues. Things are costing a lot more recently. There’s a lot of frustration, but it is what it is, and we need to get this project done and get Townline Road done. Several residents have similar problems, and we’re hoping to see significant progress.”

The councilor then asked that the city administration and engineers make the Northwest Water Project a “top priority.”

“I would’ve liked to see more progress made on this, and we need to move on and get this project done once and for all,” he added.

Ordinance 9520, unanimously approved by the council following councilor reports, authorizes the issuance of additional serial bonds to pay the costs of improvements to the city water supply and distribution system, otherwise known as the Northwest Rome Water Expansion Project.

It authorized the issuance of bonds for $8.5 million, $8.9 million, $8.6 million and $11.24 million for financing of the new maximized cost of the $37,235,000 water project, constituting an increase of $11.24 million.

Councilors said the $11.24 million increase was due to the supply chain issues and continued increase in supplies and construction, as well as services provided by Dodson, including help with grant applications and financing.

Other resolutions and ordinances unanimously approved:

• Resolution 59: Acceptance of a $1,200 donation from Adirondack Bank for the Rome Shines Beautification Award program. Winners chosen by their ward councilors will receive a $25 gift card to a local business and a sign to display on their front lawn. Common Council President Stephanie Viscelli and Third Ward Councilor Rogers developed Rome Shines, which will run this month through September.

• Resolution 60 authorized an amendment to the 2022 Sewer District budget, to account for a decrease in principal serial bonds, $215,000; and a decrease in the appropriated fund balance of $59,475; and an increase in contract services of $274,475. Councilor Anderson explained the decrease in the appropriated fund balance and principal serial bonds was due to the governor recently announcing some additional funding grants through the Environmental Funding Corporation, with some being awarded to Rome. It resulted in the city having to borrow much less money for the sewer district budget, in turn lessening the burden on taxpayers, he said.

• Ordinance 9521 authorized the closing of a portion of West Sycamore Street, from Turin Street to Carroll Street, from approximately 8-11:15 a.m., in conjunction with the Rome Free Academy graduation ceremony.

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