Health concerns resulting from an outdated sewage system have forced the Village of New Paltz to begin new construction starting this winter.
The sewer system in its current state threatens to create blockages and overflow if left unrepaired, sparking concern from residents who are part of the sewage line.
An informational meeting was held on Oct. 6 to discuss the plans. Meeting hosts provided background into the situation’s urgency and laid out general information for the public.
The updated sanitary sewage construction will cover Grove Street, Millrock Road and North Oakwood Terrace. These areas were previously untouched because they are privately owned. Now, approximately 30 homes are facing dire circumstances if the problem is left unchecked.
Currently, the winter project is only covering the three streets. Plattekill Avenue was mentioned as a potential fix. This would affect part of the SUNY New Paltz campus.
Village engineer Rich Ruth led the informational meeting to stress the importance of the project to residents. His stance focused heavily on the situation’s urgency.
Many areas within the village have been left without maintenance since the early 1900s. The former “Henry Hasbrouck” lines were questioned for safety in 1931. The problems were not addressed then.
Because of the outdated clay and tile system, any rainstorm or weather condition can cause raw sewage to spew. Water is not supposed to enter the system, which is what the Department of Conservation (DOC) has deemed to be a public health issue.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development grants in place to complete the project could expire should the village not comply by December. The consent order has put additional pressure to pursue the construction.
“We have to comply to a myriad of mandates, or the village is subject to fines of $35,000 per day,” Ruth said.
In addition to the government urging, many residents expressed their displeasure with the current situation. Many complained of the raw sewage seeping into backyards or basements. Blockages, leaks or other issues are all too common with the current system.
Sewage lines taking storm water or any infiltration cause sanitary problems. If a clay pipe in the system breaks, nobody can flush, opening a whole other set of issues in winter, Ruth said.
Sanitary circumstances are what have forced the project along.
“The existing condition is a time bomb,” Ruth said.
Because the DOC has been closely monitoring the project, the current proposal is the only plan that hasn’t been rejected. This large-scale project to connect the private residences to new village lines is the only way to pursue the project.
“We the village government are under unfortunate constraints,” New Paltz Village Mayor Jason West said.
The project has to be completed, but a new concern emerges after the original construction for many residents: the public cost for homeowners connecting up to a new village line.
This new issue took up much of the meeting’s discussion. Public concern lead to a circulating list for residents to leave their contact information.
There will be another meeting sometime this winter to address the new residential concerns, according to the village. For now, the lines have to be fixed and the initial project is moving forward.