The Oneonta Common Council listened and asked questions during the June 21, meeting, after a Suncrest Terrace resident complained about her water quality for the second time.

Merilyn Lubell passed around pictures of hoses attached to fire hydrants along Suncrest Terrace and College Terrace that pump water out of the lines three hours per day to help with the turbidity issue of the water.

“Flushing lines is not the answer, plus it’s wasting water,” Lubell said.

Lubell also showed a filter from her water line that had been discolored after two weeks of use. When she had the filter installed, she said the person told her it should last two months before it needed to be changed as she was on municipal water.

She told council members fixing water lines for drinking water should be a priority and asked if they were able to get any grants from the state to help with the infrastructure.

After City Administrator Greg Mattice gave his report, Council Member Len Carson, R-Fifth Ward, asked if there was a solution to the water problem in the College Terrace area and asked if the water being pumped out of the fire hydrants could somehow be returned to the line so it wasn’t wasted.

Oneonta Department of Public Works Director Chris Yacobucci said there used to be a circulator in the area, but it doesn’t work any more.

Council Member David Rissberger, D-Third Ward, asked what the problem was in the area.

Mattice explained the area is on a “dead end line, so there is not a lot of flow.”

Yacobucci continued, “It’s at the end of a loop and all the debris and sediment ends there.” He said the city has requested funding from the state.

Mattice said the pipes should be replaced.

Luke Murphy, D-First Ward, asked if there was any way the city could get some of the money from the Federal infrastructure bill that was passed last year.

Oneonta Community Development Director Judy Pangman said they may know more next week about funding.

Mayor Mark Drnek said they were looking into the problem and a possible solution.

Drnek and Mattice both thanked Oneonta Police Chief Christopher Witzenburg and the Oneonta Police Department for the investigation and the arrest of two brothers after the murder of Kaleb O’Neill. Mattice also said Witzenburg thanked the State Police for their help.

“You’ve given us resolution and a chance for closure,” Drnek said. “Thank you for your dedication and your commitment.”

Drnek continued, “I know the chief would be the first to say it was a collaborative effort. and that’s what I want to focus a couple of minutes on before we continue the meeting. From the colleges to the businesses, agencies, institutions, surrounding communities and our neighbors we are seeing an unprecedented level of collaboration and community engagement in making Oneonta – and the area – a better place.”

He also updated the council on the city’s Housing Commission. “Since we were last together, two weeks ago, I can report that over 20 people have volunteered to join one of our seven work groups and our review panel and commission,” he said.

After a little discussion, the council voted 6-1 with Murphy voting no, to approve an agreement with Northeast Timber Services of Walton to be the city’s forestry agent. Council Member Mark Davies, D-Second Ward, was absent from the meeting. Murphy was against the resolution at the June 6 meeting before it was tabled until Tuesday’s meeting.

The council also discussed three resolutions pertaining to the Ford Block building, commonly known as “The Arcade.” The council approved allowing the mayor to sign an easement with Ford Block, LLC, to allow pedestrians access from Main Street to Water Street and any elevator subsequently installed and the right to keep security cameras within the easement.

The council authorized the mayor to sign a development agreement with Springbrook, NY, Inc., to provide a one-time reimbursement of up to $411,000 to Springbrook for renovations and improvements to the public walkway commonly known as “The Arcade,” including the installation of an elevator. This will be funded through grant funds received by the state for downtown revitalization.

The third resolution pertaining to the Ford Block building authorizes the mayor to approve and sign a public elevator and walkway contractor agreement between Eastman Associates and Springbrook NY, Inc., to make the renovations and install the elevator.

Carson asked if Springbrook was going to change the heating and ventilation system in the building and asked if the city could have a say in how the building was heated or cooled in the walkway area.

“I would like to see them use green energy,” Carson said.

Mattice said there wasn’t a discussion about the system, but said they could ask what their plans are. Also during the meeting, the council voted to approve:

• The promotion of Donald Tubia to the position of Fire Captain, effective June 27, at a base annual salary of $64,220.

• Several street projects that will be funded by different state aid. The city received $285,000 from the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program; $120,000 from the PAVE NY program and $710,000 from the State Touring Route program.

• A contract amendment with Delaware Engineering for additional services including geotechnical investigations and environmental hazard survey and testing, including for asbestos, for the demolition of 27 Market Street building for the total of $22,330.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.

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