TICONDEROGA — Portions of Ticonderoga’s sewer infrastructure will receive an upgrade this summer, but some residents are worried it won’t be enough to solve existing problems.
The project will include the placement of 1200 feet of sanitary sewer and 1200 feet of storm sewer pipes along Wayne Ave. and Saint Claire St., an area of special concern to Thomas Porter and his son, Shaine, who owns property there.
The reason for their concern, the Porters said, is simple: every time there is heavy rain, like the deluge that sparked flooding in the region last spring, the manhole on the property overflows.
Since the antiquated sewage system in Ticonderoga is combined, meaning the pipes carry both storm water and sewage water, the aqueous overflow usually contains more than water.
Thomas said he has been complaining to the town board for 30 years, and the problem has yet to be rectified, so when he transferred the property to his son, Shaine, in 2006, he inherited the problem.
“Between the 1970s and the 2000s, we have been fighting with the town about this manhole,” Shaine said. “This is 2012. This should not be happening.”
Toilet paper dangling from tree branches like holiday garland is enough to raise anyone’s eyebrows, but Shaine said that isn’t even his greatest concern.
The property he owns is just down sewer from Moses Ludington Hospital, and he worries about what the sewage overflow might be bringing with it.
He also said that a new senior housing development that is being built on the hospital grounds, which will bring in 31 new units, will only make matters worse if the problem isn’t fixed properly.
“To be clear, I am very appreciative of the work they (the town board) are doing,” said Shaine. “They’ve definitely taken action in an area that’s been a problem for a long time, but extra care needs to be taken.”
Shaine’s apprehension about the repairs comes on the heels of improvements that were made per an agreement with the now-defunct Lowes store.
As terms of building the store in Ticonderoga in 2009, Lowes agreed to fix the storm sewer that was downstream from its property, a project they spent $270,000 on.
“Negotiations led Lowes to do some work, but we’re still seeing signs of discharged toilet paper,” Shaine said. “If the town is spending all this money, there should be a good feeling about the project.”
Tracy Smith, Ticonderoga’s sewer superintendent, said the town got Lowes to do the work to help save taxpayer money, and that he thinks their repairs did improve drainage in the area.
“This has been an ongoing problem for a number of years, and we have been taking steps to eliminate it,” Smith said.
He also said the Wayne Ave. and Saint Claire St. project is a high priority, and will cost the town up to $300,000, with other repairs throughout the town costing as much as $600,000.
“It’s important to note that the Wayne Ave. project is not a grant, it’s coming out of sewer fees,” Smith said. “The town is managing its money properly, so user rates shouldn’t go up by much.”
Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said Ticonderoga received planning grants last year from New York state to separate the town’s storm drains from its sewer lines, some of which are more than 100 years old.
“This will cost millions of dollars to complete,” Malaney said. “There’s no way the taxpayers could withstand that burden.”
Malaney said the Myers St. and Black Point sewer projects have already been completed, and that the local engineering firm doing the work will be considering the new senior living units when it begins the Wayne Ave. and Saint Claire St. repairs.
“Our engineering firm, Adirondack Engineering Services, will work with the hospital’s firm to ensure everything is done correctly,” Malaney said. “AES has worked on some town projects before, and has always done a stellar job.”
Malaney added that the town is just finishing a multi-year sewer plant upgrade project, and that an overhaul of the town’s sewer infrasructure is the next step.
“You have to remember, we’ve had two extraordinary storms, last year’s spring flood and tropical storm Irene, which brought unprecedented water flow,” Malaney said. “I can’t imagine any systems able to withstand that.”