November 29, 2021

Fixing up infrastructure

Sewer, gas line work continues in Homer village

S.N. Briere/staff reporter

DDS, a company that contracts with New York State Electric & Gas Corp., replaces the sidewalks along Main Street near the Village Green Wenesday afternoon after finishing gas line work in the area.

Take a look at downtown Homer: seems like a lot of holes and ditches all over the place. It’s part of two projects: one to update gas lines and one to improve the village’s sewer system.

“Right now they’re cleaning manholes,” said Lawrence “Buzz” Barber, the superintendent for water and sewer for the village.

Barber said workers from Green Mountain are scrubbing manholes down so they can be coated to stop groundwater from infiltrating the village’s sewer system, which is connected to the city of Cortland’s system.

“It’s cost to the village because we pay by the gallon,” he said, although he’s not sure of the additional cost the groundwater entails. “We’re hoping it’s going to save us a lot,” Barber said.

The crews are also relining old sewer lines to extend the life of the pipes.

The project, which began in mid-June, is covered by a $1.3 million loan and more than $40,000 in a grant from the New York Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program. Work will continue through the summer.

“They’ve been doing pretty good because of the weather, so they’ve been moving right along,” Barber said.

New York State Electric & Gas Corp., with help from DDS, has also been working around the village to update gas lines.

Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said the work began in summer 2018 and will likely continue through the rest of this summer, with possible work still to be done next year.

NYSEG did not return comment for more details on the project.

McCabe said any sidewalks and lawns disturbed by the work will be fixed. The village board has received one complaint from a resident about how the company was remediating sidewalks.

McCabe said that the board got several complaints about a sidewalk issue that turned out to be just one problem. That issue was settled.

“The primary issue, not shocking to anyone, was communication, which seems to be in so many cases,” McCabe said. “We often would get one resident who would complain to five different people at the village office, or trustees, or myself. We then all report it to DDS and come away thinking we just got five complaints, not understanding that it was one complaint five different times. So we need to do a better job of tracking the complaints to avoid duplication.”

He said that the sidewalks will be 4 or more inches thick and “highly reinforced,” making them more durable than existing village sidewalks. McCabe also said the finish on the sidewalks will be the same as before unless a resident specifies otherwise.

“For instance, many sidewalks are poured with what is called a picture frame border, which is the smooth outer area,” he said. “Then the inner part of the walk is slightly higher and left with a broom finish to help with traction. But some residents have requested full broom finishes, which look much rougher.”

McCabe said the complaint he’s hearing most aren’t about the sidewalks, but lawns. However, McCabe said part of the issue is to blame on the summer weather.

“It’s been an arid summer, making it hard for the seeds to germinate and take hold,” he said. “What is taking hold are some weeds that come in the seed/topsoil, but which are annuals and, if mowed regularly, will die off and not return.”

He also said the heat is pushing small stones up from beneath the new topsoil.

“Residents should water their lawns in the evening or early morning and continue to mow as usual,” he said. “Eventually, the grass seed, which is very high quality, will take hold and help push out the weeds.”

McCabe said people should still contact the village with any issues.