Eli Ruiz | Democrat
Marvin Newberg, the attorney for the Melody Lake Homeowners Association, makes a point at Friday’s meeting.
Thompson takes over water at subdivision
Story by Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO At an emergency meeting Friday afternoon, the Town of Thompson Board voted unanimously and under a variety of stipulations to temporarily take over the troublesome water system that serves the nearly 60 homes of the Melody Lake community.
In July, the water system’s latest operator, White Knight Management, submitted a petition to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to abandon the aged and damaged water system. White Knight’s James Feeny estimated the cost of a much needed overhaul for the water system to cost upwards of $2 million.
On September 28 without waiting for PSC approval White Knight walked away, effectively leaving Melody Lake residents without an operator for their water system.
The recently formed Melody Lake Homeowners Association, via attorney Marvin Newberg, has petitioned the Town of Thompson to create a new water district for the subdivision, a process that could take anywhere from 1-2 years to complete.
In the meantime, the residents of Melody Lake asked the town to take over operation of the water system temporarily, while the petition for the new water district makes its way through the proper channels to completion. Without such a takeover, Newberg noted, “These folks would be left destitute and their homes would be worthless. The alternative is a horrible situation.”
Melody Lake Homeowners Association president Laura Jones has collected about $6,000 from homeowners to place in escrow and turn over to the town in the case that the board would agree to the temporary takeover.
Before the board voted on the measure, Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini allowed Town Attorney Michael Mednick to educate the dozen or so homeowners present at the mid-afternoon meeting on exactly what “temporary receivership” by the town in this case would entail. With upgrades to the troubled system estimated in the $2 million range, the town will not be allowed to make the necessary major capital improvements to the water system until a water system is officially created. The town will be expected to fix the leaks that frequently spring up or correct low water pressure and constant service interruptions that have plagued the system for several years now.
Mednick went over some of the conditions the town wants approved by the PSC before it officially assumes temporary receivership. Those conditions include a “30-day out clause” that would allow the town to reverse course on the temporary takeover if the arrangement does not work out.
“We want to see that this community is going to step up and do what they have to do and we’ll then do what we have to do,” said Mednick. The town also wants confirmation that it will have the right to enter to maintain and operate the water system on lands and equipment still believed to be owned by White Knight, the town also asks that they be allowed to shut off water service to any non-compliant or non-paying customers. The PSC has not as yet approved these and other town conditions.
Mednick said that if the PSC does not accept the town’s conditions for temporary receivership, the board would reserve the right to reconsider taking the water system over.
For his part, Newberg said after the unanimous vote, “On behalf of the Homeowners Association and the residents of Melody Lake, we thank the town for stepping up and taking over the system to save these people’s homes. This is what local government should do and we’re very appreciative.”