PSC gives Thompson ‘water authority’
Story by Eli Ruiz
THOMPSON February 19, 2013 The long-suffering residents of the Melody Lake community in Thompson finally have consistent water service, and some peace of mind to boot.
This after years of leaks and frequent sometimes daily service interruptions to the water system servicing 52 of the 64 homes comprising the subdivision.
At a December 7, 2012 emergency meeting the Thompson Town Board voted unanimously to approve the “temporary” takeover of the troublesome water system while the petition put forth by the Melody Lake Homeowners Association asking the Town of Thompson to create a new water district for the subdivision wound its way through the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) a process that can take anywhere from 1-2 years.
Last Wednesday, it was learned that earlier in the day the PSC had finally rendered a decision on the matter of temporary ownership regarding the provision of service to the Melody Lake community.
“They certainly took their time with it but they did make a positive decision and they also granted us all of our conditions,” offered Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini to the Democrat. He added, “First off I want to thank Michael [town attorney Michael Mednick] who deserves so much credit for all the time and effort he put into this.”
At that December meeting Cellini noted the many times before the takeover that the town and it’s Water and Sewer Department head Bill Culligan had already repaired leaks and even rechlorinated the water at the subdivision.
In late September of last year the private company which last owned/operated the Melody Lake water system, White Knight Management, effectively abandoned the water works.
White Knight had originally petitioned the state PSC to allow the company to abandon the aged and damaged water system last July, when it sent out its last quarterly bill. In the original petition, James Freeny of White Knight estimated the costs of overhauling the water system to be upwards of $2 million. By September 28 and without PSC approval White Knight was gone, and the folks at Melody Lake were left to deal with a broken water system on their own.”
Now, two months into the Thompson takeover, many of those same residents are singing the town’s praises.
Dawn DiMilta, who lives at 4 Spruce Lane in the Melody Lake development said, “The water goes out periodically, but they’re [the Town of Thompson Department of Public Works] there within a few hours fixing things. It’s not even close to before when we had outages just about every day… that’s not the case now.”
DiMilta’s daughter, Lisa Bloome, who lives just around the corner at 18 Melody Lake Drive, said, “It’s so much better now.” Bloome, who still, as always, keeps track of any outages on a calendar hanging in her kitchen, adds, “I’m still keeping track, and for the month of January we had six outages, but only for a few hours.”
An obviously thankful Bloome confirmed her mother’s assessment, explaining, “I’ve seen them out at night in the dark cold working on the system and doing what needs to get done. I’ve been meaning to send them [Thompson board] an e-mail thanking them because I’m just very grateful that they stood-up for us when no one else would.”
Just up the road at 33 Melody Lake Drive, Elliot Levi has had an even better experience since the changeover: “I haven’t once totally lost water service since the town took over,” offered Levi. “Sometimes when they’re working on a leak I might lose a bit of water pressure, but that’s about it because I have yet to turn on the tap and not get water since they took over.”
Before learning of its decision Levi had had some harsh words for the state regulatory agency. “The PSC has been dragging their feet since all of this started, and my fear is that if it takes too long for them to make a decision on this temporary receivership the town will have no choice but to bill us all retroactively and that could create a big financial burden for some of us, and then it’s all dependent on the conditions the town understandably set forth,” Levi said. “They’ve [PSC] done nothing for us, not even when the other owners ran it.”
Regarding the folks at Melody Lake, Cellini said, “We’ve been out there working every single day since we took over as temporary receivers fixing leaks every day… whenever something breaks we’re there. These people are our neighbors and we felt we needed to treat them as such.”