Andes looks forward to facility upgrades


By Matthew J. Perry
In the course of a routine, one-hour meeting, the Andes Town Board announced substantial infrastructure improvement plans at its monthly meeting last Tuesday evening. The board touched on projects slated for three different facilities; its wastewater treatment plant, swimming pool and highway garage, the latter of which is still to be built. It was also reported that despite a recent threat from the county board of elections, both the town’s polling sites will remain open.
“A number of good things [happened] in May,” declared Town Supervisor Marty Donnelly.
Plans for an extensive facelift for the town pool will take many residents by surprise, not least because they require closing the facility for the entire summer season. The board resolved to accept a gift from Andes resident Walter P. Gladstone, which will be applied in full to the renovation. The amount will not exceed $150,000.
Donnelly said that the mechanics of the pool are in working order. What needs attention is the tiling that covers the bottom, sides and trough area of the pool, which will be subject to a complete redesign and repair process. Rather than attempt to work around a construction schedule that has yet to be laid out, Donnelly argued that it would be simpler to declare the pool shut for the summer and reopen next year. The finished product will be subject to state Department of Health approval.
The town’s wastewater treatment plant has been the source of numerous problems and engineering headaches over the past years, but consultant Marge Merzig explained why that troubled history may be coming to an end. A coordinated effort by Delaware Operations, an engineering firm, Keough Consulting and the NYC DEP will likely result in repairs and upgrades to the existing treatment plant that could total costs of $2.5 million. The town would not be liable for any of these costs.
Presently, the plant utilizes micro-filtration technology to treat the thousands of gallons of effluent that are processed every month. Micro-filtration, according to Merzig, is an extremely “finicky” process that results in many filter clogs, which are cleared away in a painstaking, time-costly process that involves cleaning the filter’s holes with the head of a pin.
“It doesn’t make sense to make all your waste go through this one tiny filter,” she explained.
The micro-filtration will be replaced with a new technology that was not available when the treatment plant was first constructed. Merzig stated that the new system can be installed in the existing buildings on site, and may even be condensed into a single building, freeing up another building on site for other purposes. There would be no disruption of service or re-piping required, which means that construction could take place during the winter months. Town officials are hopeful that with the new system in place, the plant’s operational costs will be reduced. Savings could also be realized for town businesses and the annual costs borne by New York City. “That’s why they’re willing to pay for it,” Merzig said.
“We’re lucky,” Donnelly said. “The city likes the option, and it would be the best for our own customers. People will be thoroughly protected. It bodes well for our future.”
Merzig described the upgrade as a correction to a mistake made when the treatment facility was built. Micro-filtration, she said, “is just too delicate. Andes never should have had it.”
With regard to the new highway garage, which will be financed with aid from the state’s USDA Rural Development Program, Donnelly stated that he was hopeful the town would soon award bids for general construction, heating and plumbing and electric systems. The town needs a letter stating the USDA’s approval of the garage plans. Once that is in hand, the board will hold a special meeting to approve the bids.
Donnelly also announced that he received a memo on May 18 from Bill Campbell, the Republican appointee to the county board of elections, that affirmed the District #2 polling site, located at the Rod & Gun Club meetinghouse on the Tremperskill Road, will not be closed. Following the special congressional election last spring, poll workers had complained about the site’s lack of a telephone and adequate heating.
The board of elections expanded on those complaints by noting that larger towns, such as Delhi and Walton, make do with a single polling site.
Andes Town Board members had argued that there was no other facility that could serve residents who populate the town’s southern region.