Spa City to continue lake court case

The City Council voted Wednesday morning to respond to an appeal filed by opponents to the Saratoga
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The City Council voted Wednesday morning to respond to an appeal filed by opponents to the Saratoga Lake drinking water project.

The council voted 4-1 in favor of spending up to $6,000 to file a response. If the state Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, agrees to hear the case, the city would probably end up spending another $20,000 to $30,000, said Ken Ivins, commissioner of finance and the sole ‘no’ vote.

“I’d rather be spending this money on fixing or maintaining our current system,” he said, referring to a city fire last week on Grand Avenue where firefighters couldn’t draw enough water out of a four-inch water main and had to hook fire hoses to a hydrant a block away.

Council members think it unlikely that the court will even hear the appeal filed by Saratoga Lake Association and Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District claiming the city didn’t adequately study watershed issues at the lake. The high court hears few appeals from petitioners.

The state Appellate Court in December overturned a previous state Supreme Court ruling against the city, giving the city the go-ahead to pursue getting permission from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Council members who voted in favor of filing the response on Wednesday were quick to point out their vote dealt with a procedural issue, not their opinion on tapping Saratoga Lake.

The city, led by Democratic Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue, has worked since 1999 to obtain permission to tap Saratoga Lake as an alternate water source.

The three Republicans who successfully ran for council seats said they believed the city doesn’t have a water crisis that warrants tapping the lake. Ivins, in particular, is opposed to spending any more money on the project.

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