Elevated Levels of Lead Discovered in Drinking Water in Some City Homes
While conducting routine testing of 60 city households, seven households were discovered to have elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco sought to assure residents that the exceedance occurred in a small number of homes with lead plumbing fixtures and that the city’s municipal water supply does not contain lead.
“First and foremost, the water supplied to the city is safe and free of lead,” Scirocco said. Both of the city’s public water sources at the Water Treatment Plant and Geyser Crest Subdivision tested at “non-detect” levels for lead.
It is believed the cause for the exceedance in the seven households – which were built between 1982 and 1986 - is due to older pipes or plumbing materials containing lead. Previous sampling in 2015 and 2016 demonstrated levels below the action level threshold.
Homes built before 1986 can potentially have lead soldering and other fixtures that increase the possibility for lead to enter the water. Lead can enter the water when it remains in contact with pipes or fixtures that contain lead for an extended period of time. To reduce the amount of lead in water, it is recommended the water be run for at least 30 seconds, or until water is cold to the touch or reaches a steady temperature, before using it for drinking or cooking. This process flushes lead-containing water from the fixture, according to the DPW.
“We are conducting confirmatory sampling of the impacted homes and taking action to ensure that every resident in our city has clean water,” said Scirocco, adding that an aggressive plan to adjust the water chemistry to prevent the leaching of lead from older residential pipes and fixtures is being finalized for approval by the New York State Department of Health.
The City has contacted the seven households where testing levels were above the threshold to re-sample the water and offer an alternative water source while awaiting a second round of testing results.
Anita Gabalski, district director at the state Department of Health, was present at Tuesday’s meeting and credited Scirocco with acting swiftly to address the issue and hiring a firm to conduct a corrosion control strategy.
Residents concerned about the plumbing in their homes, or with any questions about their drinking water, can contact the city’s 24-hour water response line established at the Water Treatment Plant at 518-584-1848.
Public Hearing Re: Eminent Domain Procedures for Geyser Road Trail Plan Remains Open
A 90-minute public hearing regarding Eminent Domain Procedures related to the city’s proposed Geyser Road Trail Plan was held Tuesday night at City Hall. Public comments regarding the issue will be accepted through Aug. 15, and the council will not take action prior to its Sept. 5 meeting, Mayor Yepsen said. Contacts via the city’s website is at: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/.
PILOT Plan Approved for West Side Affordable Housing Development
The council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement regarding the Intrada Saratoga Springs Affordable Housing Project. The Missouri-based Vecino Group seeks to develop one three-story building and three four-story buildings just east of the Saratoga train station and near the Washington Street post office.
The development proposal calls for the construction of 158 “affordable” multi-family rental units. For renters, the one, two and three-bedroom apartment units break down in this way: 24 will be available for persons with an AMI of 50 percent or less, 109 will be available for persons with an AMI of 60 percent or less, and 24 will be available for persons with an AMI of 80 percent or less. AMI, or the Area Median Income for a family of four in Saratoga County is approximately $84,000, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The PILOT Agreement calls for the company to make annual payments in lieu of taxes to the city. The tax exemption will begin on the date when the city issues a final certificate of occupancy and extend for 31 years. The annual payment in lieu of taxes will start at approximately $84,000 and increase each year by two percent.
City Adoption of South Broadway Park Remains on Hold
The City Council tabled a vote that would have used up to $20,000 of Open Space Bond Funds in the process of securing a parcel of land at a key intersection on South Broadway donated by the Crown Oil company.
The council was informed at the last minute that funds specific to Open Space could not be used for things such as ground-testing.
“We’ll have to find a different funding source to conduct testing,“ Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said.
Last month, the city tapped the brakes regarding the gifted parcel, pending a further review pending any potentially lingering hazardous conditions, given its previous standing as a longtime gas station.
The property sits at 209 South Broadway - adjacent to a Dunkin’ Donuts shop - and has been vacant for a decade. In April, David Eshaghian - doing business as the Crown Oil Co. – expressed a desire to gift to the city the parcel, which was recently appraisal set at a value of $340,000. As far back as a decade ago, the city had considered purchasing the 0.2-acre parcel outright to develop a pocket park that would feature equine sculptures.
City costs associated with the donated parcel, outside of testing, include conducting a standard title search and closing costs.
Some suggestions regarding its future use if and when the city does accept the parcel include turning the property into a pocket park, installing benches, constructing a pavilion, or possibly re-routing a nearby spring to flow to the site.
Behind Closed Doors
An executive session was held late Tuesday regarding a lawsuit challenges the permanent siting of the proposed Code Blue homeless emergency shelter on city’s west side, and an unrelated suit involving Mouzon House restaurant and the potential development of a multi-story parking garage behind the Saratoga Springs City Center. No action was taken on either discussion.
State Supreme Court Justice Robert Chauvin at Saratoga County is believed to be hearing both cases, and a decision regarding the Code Blue shelter is anticipated to be delivered in mid-August.
The Planning Board will host a workshop 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7 and a full meeting 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 10 at City Hall.
The Charter Review Commission will host a meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22 at City Hall.