Positive Water News Feeds Hope Of Rebirth
by Alex Brooks and Deb Alter
The Hoosick Rising meeting, held at the Immaculate Conception Church Hall on Tuesday evening, March 22 was upbeat and forward-looking. Hopes were high that the Village and Town are, or will soon be, turning a corner.
The meeting began with an update on the water. The NYSDOH had just reported the results of ten new samples taken from ten different locations in the Village water distribution system. Seven of them were reported as “non-detect,” defined as less than 2 parts per trillion. The other three were 2.12 ppt, 3.77 ppt, and 4.1 ppt.[private]The Mayor said DEC is actively looking for a new water source; several sites are being looked at. Some of the sites are on private property and have not been identified yet in order to protect the privacy of the property owners, especially with all the TV and big-media attention the Town and Village have been receiving. “People don’t want the TV camera crews camped out on their driveways,” The Mayor explained.
DEC is continuing to test ground water and soil samples. At least 12 PFOA dump sites have been reported so far, all of which the NYS DEC is checking out; people who have information regarding any possible dump sites are encouraged to report them to the DEC.
As of this meeting on March 22, 441 filtration systems had been installed on private wells. There had been a total of 768 requests for such systems. DEC and its contractors are continuing to install filtration systems, and to troubleshoot ones that are already installed. Mayor Borge said that while he understood that the DEC and DOH were working to get them installed as quickly as possible, he made it clear to them that that “getting it right” was more important than getting it done quickly. Saint-Gobain and Honeywell have been cooperative so far. “All-in-all, things are moving along as they should be,” said Mayor Borge. He said there have been at least three rounds of testing around the Village, and he hopes to get the thumbs-up from the DOH soon.
Both Mayor Dave Borge and Town Supervisor Mark Surdam agreed that the water crisis has had a definite negative economic impact on the community. The biggest and most immediate impact has been to property values, but there may be other less measurable and longer-lasting economic downsides. Mayor Borge said he has told Governor Cuomo that the drop in property values has been about 10-15% in the Town and 20-25% in the Village. The Governor has promised to keep a focus on that and the Mayor said that he will hold him to his word. Mayor Borge has been in constant contact with the banks that are not issuing mortgages or refinancing, and is sure that as soon as the DOH says the water is okay, they will lift the moratorium. He also said that State and Federal officials have been helpful in aiding people who had contracts but couldn’t close those sales.
Rick Tinkham of Berkshire Hathaway/Team Tinkham Realty suggested that, “once the end picture is together and the new water source is identified, we’ll be the most environmentally friendly place in New York.” He continued, “A light at the end of the tunnel will help a lot in selling Hoosick Falls.” He reported that some houses, mostly higher-priced ones, have been sold recently, and there has been quite a lot of commercial activity in the last few months, more than in the the last five years combined. Although he couldn’t provide details, he has been talking with some businesses who are interested in coming into the town.
Paula Kamperman suggested that a professional marketing campaign be developed, and that Saint-Gobain be asked to fund it. Mayor Borge said that it is already part of the ongoing negotiations.
People at the meeting agreed that Hoosick Falls now has everyone’s attention and this could be an opportunity to tell a positive story about a community that is determined to have the cleanest water anywhere, in addition to its rising school district and its many other assets.
Two citizen committees were formed, one to promote the community and pave the way for economic development, and the other to plan a community celebration of thanks and healing.
The Celebration Committee will look into ways the community can celebrate how it overcame a major crisis, worked together as a community, and thank the people who have helped, including the staff at Tops and the volunteers who delivered the water. Several ideas were bandied about and more will be explored when the committee meets on April 4.
Both committees will meet before the next Hoosick Rising meeting which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8 at 6 pm at Brown’s Walloomsac Brewery. Anyone interested in being on either or both of these committees should call the Village Clerk’s office at 518-686-7072.
The Mayor also reported on the demolition of the American House. He noted that an asbestos expert was on site during the entire process, and air tests were taken throughout the project. The debris will be carted off to a special landfill near Albany instead of to Buffalo as was originally planned, which helped save some money on the project.[/private]