FULTON COUNTY – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors Monday voted unanimously to support “endorsing the concept” of an estimated $30 million project to extend 15 miles of sanitary sewer lines from Gloversville up Route 30A to Mayfield and Northville.
Municipalities in Fulton County have discussed the concept of extending sewer and water lines from the cities of Johnstown and Gloversville into the county’s rural lakeside towns for decades, finally inking a municipal water-selling agreement called “SMART Waters” in 2012. The agreement included provisions for extending sewer lines to help promote regional economic growth — but building out the sewer structure has typically been viewed as a very heavy lift for the conservative debt-averse county Board of Supervisors.
Fulton County Planning Director Scott Henze said the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, recently passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, includes money for wastewater projects, which could provide funding for the county to finally move forward with its regional economic development goals.
“There is various federal dollars, legislation, coming down, the American Rescue Plan, and we’re hearing another $2 trillion to $3 trillion public infrastructure is possible, and these funding sources could be tapped for this infrastructure,” he said.
The resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors Monday directs Henze to “propose options for proceeding” with the project during Fulton County’s 2021 Capital Planning process. The resolution states the board supports the concept “subject to identifying available funding.”
Henze said he believes phase 1 of the sewer build-out, which would construct sewer lines from Gloversville to the village of Northville, might cost approximately $6 million, based on information from a $75,000 feasibility study conducted by Environmental Design Partnership of Clifton Park.
The resolution was proposed by town of Northampton Supervisor James Groff and Mayfield Supervisor Richard Argotsinger. Northampton contains the village of Northville.
Groff described the scope of the project and why he thinks now is the time to do it.
“It takes all of the sewer on [the western] side of the [Great Sacandaga Lake] and dumps it down into one plant,” he said. “It eliminates the Mayfield sewer plant. It eliminates the Northampton [Sacandaga Park] sewer plant and it’s going to eliminate the sewer plant for the Sunset Bay RV Park.”
Gloversville 5th Ward Supervisor Greg Young said the residential sewer waste from Mayfield and Northville would go to the Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facilities.
“There’s capacity that exists at the wastewater treatment plant,” Young said. “Also, a bunch of that Route 30A corridor is quite close to the lake, so protecting water quality is important. Septic systems can be a significant cause of pollution.”
The Gloversville-Johnstown Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility underwent significant upgrades in the 1980s to enable it to process waste from the heavy leather industry, giving the plant the capacity to handle the residential waste of a community of more than 300,000 people. Since then most of the cowhide leather tanneries have gone out of business, and Johnstown and Gloversville have a combined population of no more than 20,000 people.
Henze said sewer plant officials have endorsed the expansion of the sewer lines up Route 30A. “This would be residential [sewage] flow, and they want that kind of flow,” he said.
The feasibility study showed about 1,800 properties in Mayfield and Northville would receive service from the sewer expansion.
Henze said he expects the new infrastructure could enable many new subdivisions and businesses, generating tax revenues from both. Groff said he believes the sewer expansion will save money because it consolidates sewer plants that would otherwise need costly upgrades. He said Mayfield would have to spend about $6 million to upgrade its existing sewer plant to provide the same level of service, which is close to how much his town of Northampton would have to spend to improve the smaller Sacandaga Park sewer system, which has maxed out its capacity.
“This will help with development, and give us the opportunity to do some things,” he said. “A place like Lanzi’s restaurant could hook onto it. They were told years ago that they couldn’t put a hotel up because they would have to have a septic system and couldn’t use the sewer system.”
Groff said the county will look for every available funding source before considering borrowing for any of the components of the project.
“Infrastructure is a big part of the federal government right now, and they want regionalization, regional projects rather than local, so it’s worth a shot,” Groff said. “We’re trying to get some help from the state and federal government, because the [New York state-owned] Northampton campground also wants to hook onto it, so that would be a plus. Will it have to be done in sections? We don’t know. It’ll depend on the funding. We’ll look for funding first, then we’ll talk about bonding afterwards.”
Henze said he envisions converting the current sewer plant in Mayfield into a pump station and possibly extending sewer to the Sunset Bay Vacation Resort-RV Park & Marina as separate phases of the project. He said the county might seek some private investment from the RV park if that part of the project happens.