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Ashford Town Board hears update on Crystal Water Company water offerings

ASHFORD — Bob Runge of the West Valley Crystal Water Company was joined by some of his associates to update the Ashford Town Board about his company’s endeavors in the community, during that board’s Jan. 9 meeting.

While the Crystal Water Company has existed in West Valley for decades, the events of Sept. 11, 2001 caused many counties to place new restrictions on water companies. “The water that [West Valley] customers get now is a spring, and it’s a very good spring,” Town Clerk Patricia Dashnaw said. “But if a terrorist wanted to come in and dump something lethal into that spring, it would affect every resident here.”

Cattaraugus County is asking the Crystal Water Company to ensure that new guidelines, such as proper filtration, are met. “The company is trying to update some things that need some attention,” Dashnaw said, using some outdated water lines, as one example. She added that Crystal Water has applied for loans from the New York State Public Service Commission, to assist in its updates.

Runge said that his company is currently in talks with the public service commission, as well as the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, regarding a surcharge amount for customers, the release of funding for loan pay-backs, water allotments for meters and more. The company is also deciding whether to update its water provision with a well or with a spring, which it currently has.

“We are looking at different things, like where we would place a water reservoir,” Runge said, “but we can’t make a move with anything, until we get funds released for money we’ve already spent.”

Although Runge said that using wells and springs costs roughly the same amount of money, “some reports lean toward a spring and some say that a well is safer. I think you can make a case, either way, based on capital expenditure. It’s the security of a well, versus guarding a spring. There are benefits to both.”

More testing of the local water will be required. Runge said that he hopes to have a decision made soon and have bids go out as early as April. If the water company’s updates are started in the spring, Runge said that he anticipates completion by the fall. “The acquisition of property for a well is the only thing that could possibly stall it,” he said.

The company has approached the West Valley Central School Board about utilizing the well on school property. “We are checking with our legal council and a decision will be made, one way or another, at the next meeting,” said WVCS Board Member Michael Frascella, who was in attendance at the Ashford Board meeting.

“There is no town involvement,” Dashnaw clarified. “It’s a town issue, only because it affects the residents. But [Crystal Water tries] to keep the board informed, as to what they’re doing. They are very good about making sure their customers are informed.”

More information about this process will be printed in an upcoming issue of the Springville Journal.

In other board news:
– The board heard an update from Phil Moyer about the town’s insurance coverage. The town’s policy, which was renewed Jan. 15, includes $1 million in liability and a $3 million umbrella. Accidents incurred by public officials have $1 million in coverage, through the town, in addition to the individuals’ personal insurance. Every employee also has $50,000 in theft insurance. The town’s equipment, vehicles and buildings are also covered. After explaining these and various other coverage details, Moyer said, “You are very well insured.”

– The board issued a proclamation acknowledging Bud and Mary Lou Williams for their 30 years of work, with the local food pantry.

– Code Enforcement Officer Gary Perkins announced that AT&T is updating its antennas and adding additional equipment, in the area.

– Highway Superintendent Tim Engels reported that one of his department’s trucks recently experienced an “absolute catastrophic failure,” which ruined its engine block. A brand-new engine cost the town $29,706. The truck had 67,000 miles on it. Engels said that the new engine came with a two-year warranty. He added that he anticipates getting another four years out of the truck.

– Board Member John Pfeffer asked that the town obtain regular reports from National Grid that show data on power gathered from solar panels in town. “We need to be diligent about these numbers,” he said, asking that Superintendent Chris Gerwitz give the board a monthly report on the issue. “I am interested in having accountability on it,” he said.

– The board discussed a request from the county to transfer approximately 3.4 miles of road to the town. The board is asking that Cattaraugus County accept 4.2 miles of the former Route 219, in return.

– New York State Energy Research and Development Authority West Valley Site Management Program Director Paul Bembia announced that, until President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget is released in February, “we don’t know what level of funding will be requested ... the West Valley Demonstration Project. If we remain at $50 million [25 percent below the 2012 appropriation of $66 million], the first phase of decommissioning work will be significantly impacted and probably extend until the year 2030.”

– The WVDP building that housed cement solidification systems for various liquid wastes will be demolished in three phases, beginning with the sheet metal outer structure. The demolition is scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

The next meeting will be held Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.

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