Weekly Feature

2018-06-07 / Front Page

Officials, residents clash over drainage upkeep

by AMY ROBB Editor

Residents of Pheasant Run Lane voiced concern at Monday night’s Lancaster Board meeting regarding drainage issues along the street.

During the session, a resolution was approved to request bids to clear, cut and land grade detention basins along the street.

“That detention basin has to be brought back to its originally engineered condition,” said Matthew Fischione, the town’s code enforcement officer. “There is capacity that is lost there. The fact that it’s working now is great, but it’s not to its designed capacity. It’s designed to hold a lot more water than it does, and if we do get those heavy, heavy rains, properties could get flooded because there’s no room in the pond to hold that water back.

“Just like every other development in town that has to design to a standard, this one doesn’t meet that standard.”

Over the years, vegetation in the basins has gotten so bad that Highway Department crews can’t take care of it themselves, instead putting the work out to bid.

“It’s gotten overgrown to the point that [Dan Amatura, highway supervisor] doesn’t have equipment large enough to knock it down,” said Ed Schiller, town engineer.

“It’s a one-time brush hog, basically, to clear cut it. Once that’s done, he can go in every year.”

According to Fischione, highway workers attempted to work on the basins two years ago and were verbally harassed by neighbors.

“They were in there to maintain it, and the residents were harassing them; they were pretty abusive. It was in the east end,” added Fischione.

Keith Gordon and Shirley Smith, who both live toward the middle of the street, made it clear that they weren’t the residents responsible for harassing town workers, but they also expressed interest in keeping the reeds as a natural filter for otherwise stagnant water.

“These reeds help filter the water, and without those reeds, you’re going to have stagnant, polluted water that is going to smell bad and be a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” said Gordon.

“This area has been, for well over half the time, full with the reeds that it has now, and it’s never been a problem. It helps avoid pollution.”

“They’ve cut them back quite a bit since we’ve been there. Those in the middle parts want to keep the reeds,” added Smith.

In another matter, Councilman Ron Ruffino pulled a resolution to begin an Assessment Equity Program for the town, which would have brought on GAR Associates to appraise parcels of real property within the town’s geographical boundaries.

Ruffino’s reason for pulling the agenda item was to put the request out to bid and possibly get a lower quote from another appraiser.

“When we’re handing out contracts to companies, I want to make sure that we’re getting the best price for the best service,” said Ruffino.

“The best way to do this is to put a [request for proposal] together. That way you have the scope of work being requested, everyone is bidding on the same thing, and then you make your decision.

“With professional services, you don’t have to put an RFP out. I’m not of that opinion. In my book, I feel an RFP should go out whether it be professional services or anything else.”

GAR Associates would assist the town in the project, which is set to take three years, for $282,000.

“When you hand out a $282,000 contract without any RFP being put together, the due diligence is not done there,” added Ruffino.

Although the resolution was pulled from Monday’s agenda, it was unclear whether an amended version, including an RFP, would be seen in the future.

The Lancaster Town Board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, June 18, at 21 Central Ave. in Lancaster. There is always a work session a half-hour prior to each meeting.

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