Tuesday, November 27, 2007

If you build it, they will drink

Sometimes, you have to wonder if John Lawler has been watching the movie “Field of Dreams” lately in his office. The chairman of the Saratoga County Water Authority remains upbeat about the county’s $67 million project these days, even though things haven’t gone very well for it lately. In fact, things have gone rather bad for the whole project.

First, the heir of Luther Forest challenged the constitutionality of county pipeline work on state parkland. Then about a month later, the town of Ballston realizing they had signed two ironclad contracts to purchase nearly three times the amount of water used annually by the town. And then this week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation challengedwhat was supposed to be a “simple name change” on the authority’s application, the Times Union reported.

Without state approval for the change, the water authority will be unable to borrow cash desperately needed to finish the 26-mile pipeline, which has cost roughly $100,000 per day to build. State officials are now asking the authority to reaffirm the need for this mammoth pipeline, seeing as though its largest potential customer still hasn’t materialized and the runner up vanished more than a year ago.

“The notice of incomplete application cited that certain subscribers might have withdrawn from the project, raising the question of public necessity under the appropriate environmental regulations,” DEC spokesman Yancey Roy told the Times Union.

This necessity is further complicated by the uncertainty of Advanced Micro Devices’ constructing a $3.2 billion chip factory in Luther Forest. The plant would suck up 2.4 million gallons of county water per day and represents the only real salvation for the water plan. With the plant built, the county will experience unprecedented growth, which will in turn justify bulldozing hundreds acres of parkland. Sources said AMD’s major hang up right now is an anti-trust lawsuit the company has pending against Intel, which remains pending in federal court.

Similar lawsuits were recently resolved in Europe and Japan, opening additional markets for the company overseas and supposedly bolstering its production needs. But this news doesn’t mean much for AMD in the United States or their commitment to buy water in Saratoga County.

Meanwhile, Lawler remains steadfast in his desire to hammer in the water project before it can fall prey to a cease-and-desist order that is bound to arise from one of the many lawsuits pending against the pipeline. Absent an approval for the name change, he said the county will hand control of the project back to Board of Supervisors, which was originally granted permits by the DEC to begin digging.

Who cares if there are lawsuits barreling down the pike like tidal wave or that the county has sank $6 million of its surplus into completing a pipeline to nowhere? And what does it really matter that the number-one user might not know whether they’ll need water until the costly pipeline is already built? Most of all, does it really matter the housing market has gone flat and the construction of new homes is expected to follow, meaning that county growth may soon be stunted? Not if you’re Lawler, who’s philosophy seems to be “if you build it, they will drink.”

And drink they will. Mind you, one of the largest municipal water users in Saratoga County could very well go back onto the market for water. Yes, the Spa City doesn’t appear to have much of a future in tapping Saratoga Lake, especially given the recent fiscal woes highlighted by outgoing Mayor Valerie Keehn’s frivolous capital project budget.

The need for a palatial public safety palace seems to be the concern-du-jour for city officials, rather than the supposed quality of Loughberry Lake. Funding for the Moore Mansion is likely to eclipse any possible allocation for establishing a city pipeline to Saratoga Lake, which shouldn’t make the list of necessary project if one were to believe the rhetoric tossed about in the run up to the election.

The soon-to-be Republican majority – incomming Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco in specific –argued there is no real need to augment the city’s water source at this time. But this tune is likely to change if the county elders continue to watch the frail foundation of their water system crumble. If AMD isn’t onboard to buy water by their deadline to build the plant in 2009, there’s a good chance the pipeline will three commissioners in nearby metropolis more than willing to fill in this void.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA - I think you missed one major issue that is going on here - this is more of the get "Joe Bruno at any cost" being played out by Elliot's Mess crowd in Albany and NYC. I think this is just another example of how DEC is being used to promote a political agenda.

Lets see we have the SP leak the spouse abuse report on Sweeney and travel records of Bruno, we call the FBI and IRS on Bruno, then we have DEC and FBI in our fair city towards a certain Commissioner. The election is over and where are the charges other than a poorly written memo highlight where to put some waste. I guess they did not teach good writing skills in those SS schools in the good old days.

I am certainly concerned that we have a water system and a landfill that will drowned the county in waste tax dollars for a half century.

But lets all realize that the recent story about the water system is most likely another attempt "to get Bruno" at any cost.

Ah, the new boss is the same (or worst) than the old boss,

Today's quote for the day from the TU Capitol blog - Spitzer reflects on his first year, and while he concedes he may not be “naturally suited” to this job” and that he’s boning up on how other politicians do things".

And so it goes,

Just an observer.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you start to add all the money that our local, county, state and federal governments have been pissing away and plan on pissing away, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the economy is in deep do--do.

All of these governments are replicating what has been going on within the current lifestyles of American culture. Consumption; unadulterated pure spending gone wild.

New, bigger and better; we are a collision course with economic reality.

Many Americans are getting poorer.
Many Americans are getting richer.

Anybody want to buy a 62,000 square foot house?

It’s going to be interesting.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the odds that three Commissioners’ would vote for a County water system that would be more expensive and painful on an election year? Moreover, after two more years of exposure, would it be reasonable to assume that the public will intelligently demand that a City owned system protects them best. We’ll have to see.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard a Rotary member say that he heard at today's Rotary meeting that the Saratoga Lake water line was going happen.

So let's have a rumor test.

I would like someone in the future, when we actually know the truth, to refer back to this rumor. (Just for accuracy’s sake)

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually it would more cost effective for the city to let the county build their system, as opposed to spending 22-25 million of city money. eventhough the county plan cost more, it's spread out over more people. also whatever money the county spends on this is already payed for. (taxes we've already payed are being applied) where is the money coming to pay for this lake boondoggle.

7:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The issue is larger than money.
We are talking water rights.
We are talking about trust.
Can Saratoga Springs trust the Republican Machine in Saratoga County?

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shotinthedark - can you list all the times or some of the times the county machine has screwed the city?

I can not think of many...

What does the city get? Parking deck, lower sewer rates, IDA money focused on tax and job development, fireworks, all the tourism money, off the top of my head....

I think the city does well compared to CP or 1/2 moon.


1:02 PM  

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