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Lawrence Mayor: Village's Own Tap Water Facility an Option

Mayor Martin Oliner says he'd like to abandon Long Island American Water if water does not get better.

The mayor of the Village of Lawrence said he’s considering opening a facility in the village to provide it with cleaner water, because the water currently supplied by Long Island American Water is “unacceptable.”

The idea is a “plan B,” Mayor Martin Oliner said at the board of trustee’s Oct. 6 meeting, if using clout and threats doesn’t get the utility to improve the quality of the water for the village. A Lawrence water facility is a pipe dream, because, as Oliner pointed out, LIAW owns the pipes that connect to people’s homes.

The mayor had a meeting with Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and LIAW President William Varley, where Oliner was promised, “they would make sure our water is safer,” he said. He added that the Department of Health only would get involved if someone were hurt or sickened.

Trustee Ed Klar said that water being pumped by residents into the streets has caused the sidewalks to turn a rust color. Summonses were issued to those residents because pumping to the street is against village code.

Other items discussed at the meeting:

  • Welding being done at the caused some grease to catch on Oct. 4, according to village officials, causing $250,000 to $300,000 worth of damage at the club.
    “The sparks generated by welding caused the grease in ducts to catch fire,” Village Administrator David Smollet said.
    Repair work has started, but for now, the kitchen, restaurant and ballroom are closed. The rest of the club remains open.
  • The board is still not receiving village materials in good time, according to Klar, a complaint raised last month by Trustee Joel Mael. Klar said he didn’t get half of the agenda’s items until two hours before the meeting.
    “That’s inadequate time to ask questions,” he said. “In the last few months, everything has been received at the last second.”
  • Trustee Michael Fragin pointed out that minutes for every meeting after March are not available, which puts the village in violation of statutes requiring municipalities to do so.
    This raised the issue of the village not having enough staff members to handle the workload.
    “Mr. Smollet is overburdened,” said Mayor Martin Oliner, referring to Village Administrator David Smollet. “People who worked here two years ago chose to work elsewhere.”
    He added, “There’s no excuse for not having minutes available. We need to do better.”
  • The lack of staff problem also rolled into other issues. The board recently changed its rules to require trustees to review every check that goes out, but for some of the past few meetings, the trustees have had to table a motion to approve payment abstracts.
    Throughout the night, trustees complained that they were not provided with up-to-date information from the administration on many ongoing projects, including the tide gate at the country club that has been an issue for months.
  • The generator at the Sage Pond Pump Station, which is about 40 years old, should be replaced before the county is scheduled to take over the village’s sewage system in January, Oliner said.
    “I don’t want to be at the county’s mercy,” he said.
    The generator is only used when LIPA power goes out, Smollet said.
    The mayor wants to confirm that replacing the generator won’t use money from the village’s funds.

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