Tensions ran high at a public hearing on extending the water district in Lansing Wednesday (10/19) night. Residents of Algerine and Lansing Station Roads nearly filled the Town Hall to address the proposed town water project. Nearly 20 residents spoke passionately on both sides of the issue.

  For Against
"I don't know how you can deny us."
    -- Jack MacNamara
"If you add that $574.00 to my property tax I'm going to lose my house."
     -- Penny Rogers
Town Engineer David Herrick began the hearing by giving a brief explanation of the proposal and what it will mean to residents. This was followed my Town Attorney Guy Krogh's explanation of the process that will be used in creating the district extension.

When creating a water district extension all the owners in the district are responsible for paying for its establishment, which includes the laying of the pipes and other equipment needed to get town water to the entire area. In this project a pressure reducing station will be needed on Algerine Road because the hill is so steep. Annual fees are charged for the 30 years of a loan taken out to pay for the project.

In this case it is estimated that most homeowners will pay $574.00 per year. This figure is up from last month, despite some property owners requesting that they be added to the district. With rising fuel and material costs the total cost of the project is rising daily. Bad news is that some wells in the area have been found to contain crypto sporidia. But this health hazard has raised the area's NYSEFC Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund point score, which could result in a lower interest rate or even a zero interest loan, which could bring the average homeowner's fee down as low as $277.82 per year.

  For Against
"I've gone without water for days or weeks at a time"
     -- Kathleen Caryl 
"I can tell you right now that a minimum of six families, guaranteed, will move out of Lansing if this thing goes through."  -- Fred Miller

Speakers were allowed three minutes each to address the Town Board. Trailer Park owner Donald Norman said, "I'm not opposed to the town bringing in water. I'm opposed to the way this has been planned." He said he can't raise rents all at once, because his tenants can't afford the higher cost, and feared he might lose his property. "As of right now I am paying double the assessment I actually paid for the property," he said.

Donald Norman adresses the Board

"I can tell you right now that a minimum of six families, guaranteed, will move out of Lansing if this thing goes through," Fred Miller told the board. "We cannot afford it." Penny Rogers explained that she had inherited her house from her grandparents. "We don't have much money," she said. "I can't afford this. If you add that $574.00 to my property tax I'm going to lose my house and my land. And that's all I have."

But residents who favor water were just as impassioned in their plea to the Board to get them water. Kathleen Caryl told the board her well has coliform bacteria in it. "There's sewage that goes directly into the lake. When I have no power I have no water and the filter to make my water potable does not work. The expense of purchasing these items and maintaining them has been substantial. Many years I've gone without water for days or weeks at a time," she said. "I've watched neighbors' houses burn to the ground because we didn't have public water," she added.

Town Board listens to residents

Jack MacNamara has been a spokesman for residents who favor the project. He led a group of residents who circulated a petition that yielded 75% of residents who said they were for extending the district. "Gentlemen and Lady, I don't know how you can deny us," he told the Board. "All the people in this area should work together and get that down to the lowest possible cost and get safe water for people on Algerine Road and Lansing Station Road."

David Taub, who owns a house and apartments on Lansing Station Road, said "Safe drinking water is essential to the health of our community, and ultimately a municipality's responsibility." He said that he strongly favored town water, even though it would come at considerable cost to him, because he could not pass the entire expense on to his tenants all at once.

  For Against
"It's important that we look after each other.  We may have to spend a little bit of money to do that, but I think in the long run it will come back to us."
    -- Brian Flannagan
"I'm not opposed to the town bringing in water. I'm opposed to the way this has been planned."
    -- Donald Norman
In all, nearly 20 residents spoke for and against the proposal, after which the public hearing was called to a close. But that was not the end of the board's discussion. After most of the residents left the board discussed procedure and got legal clarification of some of the issues. Towns do not have a legal responsibility to provide water, but Lansing wants to do so when residents request it.

The Town Hall was nearly filled to capacity

Going forward Mr. Herrick will finalize his report so it can be placed in the Town Clerk's office 10 days before the next public hearing. The Board, given a choice of three legal procedures, chose the one best suited to this project. Town Supervisor Stephen Farkas asked Mr. Herrick to begin work on a Hardship Determination Application, which will be used by the State to determine what interest rate will be offered to the town.

Another public hearing was set for November 16.