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Supervisor's Corner: A Saturday in the Life

By Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty



Saturday, May 2 was shaping up to be a great day in the Flaherty household. With the weather looking to be in the sixties and sunny, I'm sure like all of you, we were excited to do some outdoor "work and fun." I like to take Saturday mornings between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. to do catch-up work on Town of Webster items. Over a few cups of coffee, I find that time before the kids get up to be one of my favorites of the week. Whether returning phone calls or emails, it is always therapeutic to "catch up" and know you'll be going into the next work week somewhat caught up. 

If there is one thing I have learned over the years, you have to accept that your "plans" may be changed due to unforeseen events. Having seven children showed me that any plans you may have had for a day could be altered for a myriad of reasons. Seems like someone was always spraining an ankle or something that made me have to deviate from the day's plan. Also, having been the owner of a company for 25 years, things came up all the time that made you have to change your plan.

So on Saturday, May 2, after I had done my 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. catch-up, I had planned on a number of work and play things to do, including: volunteering at the Food Drive at Holy Trinity that had been coordinated by County Legislator Matt Terp, walking a few miles with my 81-year-old mother, and doing some projects with my two college-age daughters who had just gotten home this past week. 

Then, at about 10:30 a.m., I got a call from Art Petrone, Deputy Commissioner of Public Works, letting me know that the sewer plant had an issue that had resulted in 10 feet of waste water in a basement of one of the plant's buildings. The timing of such an event is never ideal, but it was particularly interesting in that Art had presented to the Town Board on Thursday, April 30 the laundry list of things he thought needed to be worked on at the sewer plant. He had a disclaimer in that presentation that "this is what I see on April 30... the list could increase as unforeseen events occur."

Unfortunately, unforeseen events can occur when a facility starts to age. It is why the Town Board decided a few years ago to do a $12 million Phase 1 project at the sewer plant. That project will be complete in the next few months. We are now looking at options as to entering into a Phase 2 project at the plant, or to do repairs as they manifest themselves. The Phase 2 option will most likely tie into whether the Village of Webster Board votes to keep their own sewer plant or to pursue a regional plant with the town. The grant and financing options vary greatly between two separate plants and one regional one. The repair option becomes more of a "read and react" as functions break down. The danger of that with a sewer plant is that "the flow can never stop." 

I spent some time over at the plant on Saturday, May 2 assessing the situation with the flooded basement. I was still able to deliver some food to the food drive, albeit not work at it, and I was still able to walk with my mom. My time at the sewer plant showed me the great teamwork in place there. Sewer plant employees, outside engineering firms, and electricians converged on site to minimize the damage. Bottom line, the situation could have been a lot worse if not for the quick actions taken by this team. As I got a chance to talk to many of them, it became apparent to me that they too knew that "best laid plans can often be changed," and no use crying over spilt milk (or, in this case, waste water). Gotta move fast and clean it up, whether it happens on a weekday at 1 p.m. or a weekend at 3 a.m.

I'm glad I got my schedule changed on Saturday, since it showed me what a great team we have in this town at the Sewer Department. The Town Board and I will continue to work with them to try and get the plant in a position to have less repairs based on aged items, while balancing fiscal responsibility to the citizens.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please call me at (585) 872-7068 or e-mail supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us.


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