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Water Main Update in Cairo

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 6/7/24 | 6/7/24

By D.M. Kamecke

CAIRO — The Cairo Town Board held a public hearing this week on a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application that would help fund the replacement of the water mains, hydrants, and service laterals on Jerome and Phelps Avenue in the hamlet. Prone to frequent breaks, those two lines are the remaining cast-iron pipes in the town, the rest having been replaced with PVC over the past 20 years or so. 

A report by Delaware Engineering, which conducted the water engineering study, states that the project would include remedial work to improve connectivity between Shinglekill and one of the town’s wells. It could also include road resurfacing but the grant would not include replacing lines to individual homes according to Delaware engineer Allan Tavenner. 

The public hearing, a requirement of the grant application, is just one step in the process.  Another is to demonstrate that the project will benefit low and moderate-income residents. While Cairo, at large, meets the definition, the town must demonstrate that it applies to the water district in question. Hopes that data from the latest U.S. Census would provide that information were dashed when the town was informed that the boundary of the water district does not exactly match that of the 2020 Census thereby excluding it as a counting tool for this particular project. 

At the hearing, Mark Blauer, the likely grant writer for the application, reported that the CDBG grant is highly competitive but the town could receive upwards of $1.5 million. To get the funding, it must follow strict application guidelines. Some of those requirements, such as an environmental quality review and an engineer selected, are already met. The sticking point could very well be the water district count. Blauer says he has specifically requested that the town be given an exception by New York State and allowed to use the Census. However, based on the State’s history of responding “no” over the years to such requests from other applicants, it seems likely the town will be required to do an income survey in the covered area. 

With an end-of-July deadline looming, completing a door-to-door survey of the 782 residences within the water district will be difficult due the requirement of an 80% response rate. 

With the uncertainty of the project moving forward at this time, Town Board members decided to table a resolution to hire Blauer to complete the application. If the survey must be done, and given the alternative of funding the project itself, the town may very well have to postpone submitting the application until next year.

Comments from the audience included complaints about the length of time it is taking to get this project off the ground as well as questions regarding PFOA remediation something that is not addressed as part of the water main replacement. However, the project could include some filtration.

The CDBG grant is funded to the State by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and is delivered through New York State’s Office of Community Renewal.

Hoping to make things more comfortable during the dog days of summer, the Town Board also voted to advertise for bids on creating a shade structure in the town’s popular dog park.

Cairo Park to Get Upgrades

In other news, the town is on a mission to make getting healthier a little easier and a lot more fun. The Board voted at its May 15 meeting to expend its remaining ARPA funds on buying outdoor exercise equipment for use in Angelo Canna Park. Town Supervisor Jason Watts reports that the equipment has now been ordered and the town is just waiting for delivery.

According to Watts, the town will also be reconfiguring one of the basketball courts to allow for the installation of a pickleball court. The current one is located in the tennis area. Pickleball equipment is available at no charge from the local library. The town is also upgrading computers and IT equipment in the various town departments.

The town previously spent ARPA money on the installation of a new heating/cooling system in the main town hall, replacing the old one which needed frequent repairs. 

Adding to the funding pot, the County Legislature has allocated an additional $25,000 in ARPA to Cairo as well as to the rest of the municipalities in Greene.

ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) was signed into law in 2021 by the 117th Congress. According to the Summary: H.R.1319 on the Congressional website, “This bill provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.”

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