By STEVE JONES Staff writer
Rome Mayor Joseph R. Fusco Jr. will participate along with seven other local government representatives at the Genesis Group general meeting and sixth annual Regional Community Forum Friday, and is bringing with him a list of three important topics.
The group will meet at 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Radisson Hotel Utica Centre, 200 Genesee St., Utica. Along with Fusco, other participants will be: U.S. Rep. Richard L. Hanna, R-24, Barneveld; state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome; Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi, D-116, Utica; Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-115, New Hartford; Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-117, Newport; Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.; and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.
The elected officials are bringing two to three topics to discuss. Fusco said he has three. "I’m going to hit on ....
¿The condition that our water supply system is in. Between government mandates and the age of our equipment, we’re in quite a state."
¿Also, he said he wants to talk about "my concepts for reorganization of the [city] workforce — refocusing the day-to-day strategy as well as the long-term goals."
¿Another topic will be "building a stronger relationship with local development groups to bring out new ideas in economic development, as well as a rethinking of Rome’s contribution — what it can and should be doing rather than sitting here expecting EDGE to do all the work."
The forum is sponsored by the Genesis Group and the Chamber Alliance of the Mohawk Valley, which represents chambers of commerce from the Boonville area, Camden area, Clinton, Herkimer County, Kuyahoora Valley, Marcy, New Hartford, Greater Oneida, Rome area, Trenton area, and affiliate partners Oneida County Tourism, Mohawk Valley EDGE, Leadership Mohawk Valley and Genesis.
The city’s water system is the source of a multi-million dollar challenge for the administration. Rome must fulfill federal requirements that it protect its water supply by covering the twin reservoirs, using tanks instead or using ultraviolet filters on the water leaving the reservoirs. The previous administration was in favor of tanks, and Public Works Commissioner Frank D. Tallarino Jr., who was appointed by then Mayor James F. Brown and has continued with Fusco, still advocates for this option. Fusco has leaned toward ultraviolet filters and other options as more practical and cheaper.
Regardless of which option is chosen, the city will likely install a 10-million-gallon tank near the water filtration plant in the Town of Lee in order to improve pressure to north Rome customers and build redundancy into the system, said Public Works Commissioner Frank D. Tallarino Jr. Floating covers for the reservoirs have been essentially ruled out, Tallarino said, as they have not worked well for some other municipalities. Covers and the tank would cost at least $25 million. The two tanks — one for 10 million and one for 20 million gallons — would cost about $30 million. Ultraviolet technology combined with one tank would cost $15-17 million. The tunnel system that feeds the filtration plant is also in need of repairs and upgrades, and that work, which will come first, will cost at least $9 million, Tallarino said.
The city is aiming to have a design plan and contractor in place for the tunnel work in time to start work in mid-2013, Tallarino said. The federal compliance is due in 2016, he said, but he noted that he is in talks with state and federal officials about financial assistance and extra time, considering the cost of the equally necessary tunnel work.
The city serves 34,000 customers in Rome, Lee, Floyd, Westmoreland and the state prison in south Rome and the Griffiss Business and Technology Park. About 10,000 service connections serve city water customers. Residents, who are charged a flat fee, use about 2.16 billion gallons of water annually. Metered users — commercial and industrial customers — use 1.25 billion gallons.