Whitehall Village Will Declare Emergency to Fix Water Line

B y Lee Tugas

The Whitehall Village Board agreed to declare a water line emergency as a way to most speedily affect repairs to a leaking water line on the Poultney Street Bridge.

Village Superintendent of Public Works Don Williams reported to the board earlier this month that a small leak in a water line valve had recently grown into a leak of “1,000 gallons of water per day.”

To its disappointment, the board also learned from Williams that the state Department of  Transportation does not intend to replace the bridge, but to simply repair the deck on the bridge, one traffic lane at a time.

Williams said that by declaring an emergency, it would make it easier for the village to draw from $10.6 million in existing funds remaining from the original $38 million in bonds earmarked decades ago for sewer and water upgrades.

The work on the bridge water line will not be immediate, since the project has to be put out to bid, Williams said. The water line is roughly 300-feet long and 12-inches in diameter.

When the work starts, traffic will be confined to one lane during normal working hours, Williams said. But both lanes will be open for traffic at night. The repairs will not shut off any water to village businesses or homeowners, Williams stressed.

State repairs in spring?

As for state repairs to the bridge, Williams did not want to hazard a guess when the state Department of Transportation would start. The public works superintendent said the recent shutdown in the federal government would, no doubt, have a delaying effect on state work.

“At this point,” Williams said, “I’d say the state will work on the bridge in the spring or early summer.” At that point, the bridge will be narrowed to just one lane by the state, with traffic controlled by traffic lights, Williams said.

School access road no problem

In other business, Attorney Erika Sellar Ryan said that Whitehall Town Attorney Christian Morris was the point man on the town and village’s efforts to secure village police access along part of Route 4 and all of Buckley Road to Whitehall Central School.

Ryan said that Morris was writing an agreement between the town and village that would enable village police to have legal jurisdiction and legal liability protection while responding to emergencies at the school district.

Both the town and village are modeling the proposed agreement on a similar case involving the City of Mechanicville and the Town of Halfmoon. There, Mechanicville City Police have legal jurisdiction and liability protection when responding to calls from a city school district that lies within Halfmoon.

The case in Mechanicville involves a city school district. Whitehall is a central school district. But Ryan did not believe this dissimilarity would have any bearing on the resolution that Morris is writing.

“The concept is the same,” Ryan said. “These agreements work within towns and villages.”

For its part, the Whitehall Central School District has not officially decided if it wants the Whitehall Police to have authority at the school.

Superintendent James Watson has said it’s a matter the board and incoming Superintendent Elizabeth Legault will need to address.

Fence Law Delayed

Attorney Ryan had brought an updated fence law to the meeting, but it was set aside for further work. The village board members agreed with the attorney that the proposed law should contain regulations for any fencing installed within Whitehall’s historic district on Main Street.

Whitehall Heritage Director Carol Greenough gave Ryan a copy of historic preservation laws that pertain to the historic district.

Ryan said that fencing regulations, whether inside or outside of the historic district, should be written to be included in the zoning ordinances of the village. The board instructed Ryan to do further work on the fencing regulations before setting a public hearing on these new zoning regulations.

Final business

In its final business, the board lauded the village’s public works crews for the clean-up work done behind the sewer plant; noted that village police had moved into their new headquarters in the town and village municipal center; and agreed to a $24,000 “payout” to Resnick Engineering for water line work on Route 22 North, and Neddo and Kirtland Streets.

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