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$225K of American Rescue Plan funds to go to Water District issues

AMENIA — Members of the Town Board discussed how they planned to handle the American Rescue Plan funds the town received this summer at its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 19.

According to town Supervisor Victoria Perotti, Amenia received the first 50% of its main funding allocation this summer, in the amount of $224,671.79. It then received another $917.28, totalling $225,589.07. 

The second 50% of the main funding allocation, $224,671.79, plus $917.28, will be sent to Amenia next summer, totaling another $225,589.07.

The board met at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Based on webinars she’s attended and other informational sources, Perotti said the board will have to put together a capital project plan to address the infrastructure issues in the Amenia Water District. Some of those include the pump house that needs to be taken down and looking for new wells. 

Furthermore, Perotti said an asset inventory of the Water District is needed. While a project report is due at the end of October, the work doesn’t have to be done by then. Instead, the report can state that Amenia is creating a capital plan and doing the asset inventory, and report what steps the town has taken to use the American Rescue Plan moneys.

Perotti mentioned she’s been meeting with Amenia Water Operator Marco D’Antonio, who has his own company. The town can hire his workers to do some of the work. Perotti still wants the work overseen by Amenia Town Engineer John Andrews, she said. Besides doing a capital plan for immediate work, Perotti said the town needs to do a long-range capital plan for the Water District.

Perotti plans to meet with D’Antonio and work on a plan the town can move forward with. However the town plans to use the funds, Amenia must have a capital plan.

Councilman Damian Gutierrez remarked that in 2018, D’Antonio and his business partner put together a detailed document and presented it to the Town Board. However, he said he wasn’t sure if it was comprehensive enough to qualify as a capital plan or if there were additional requirements. Perotti said the town could at least use that document as a starting point.

Councilwoman Vicki Doyle said requests for proposals (RFPs) for the capital project plan came “from all kinds of engineering companies that submit their recommendations for how they would go about doing a long-term capital plan, weighing all the various important projects that will need to be undertaken over X amount of time and how to prioritize that.” 

After the RFPs came in, Doyle said the board interviewed several of the engineering firms; Andrews also evaluated which firm was best.

“I would wonder why we don’t go back to that and hire somebody to do a real evaluation of the status of the Water District,” Doyle said. “There are a lot of serious issues facing this water district — aging infrastructure, pipes that are various sizes, band aids that have been made.

“It seemed like we were very close to it then and now we actually have funds to have a comprehensive outside group that would look at it and have specific experience with water districts and wastewater district,” she continued.

Doyle recommended the board revisit the work it did previously and review the recommendations proposed by engineering firms in the past. 

Perotti remarked that things have changed and “the whole idea is we can do a full plan, but we need to assess what needs to be done now and long-term.”

Gutierrez agreed that the board should get an expert to advise the board on this matter; Doyle recommended talking with Andrews. Perotti suggested the board continue its discussion at its next meeting, which was on Thursday, Sept. 2.

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