Some Plattsburgh council members are hot to ban smoky outdoor fire pits

New York

For the third time this year, the Plattsburgh Common Council found itself discussing outdoor fire pits in the city. While members did not take action or announce public hearings, at least two councilors said the issue needs to be formally addressed.

“Everyone around them is forced to participate,” said Councilor Jeff Moore. “People who are there get the fire enjoyment, and everybody else gets the smoke in the windows.”

Councilor Elizabeth Gibbs said she would support a citywide ban. “Fires are for campsites, not for homes, ” she said.

Councilor’s also discussed the rising capital costs of the Wastewater Resource and Recovery Facility, one of the most prominent buildings on the Lake City’s waterfront. Some of the projects have been closely tied to the relocation of the Plattsburgh Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market, which began a new season last month right across the street from the plant.

However, other projects predate any discussion of that move. Last year, the city began pollution control work at the sewage plant that was first placed on the drawing board in 2018. When the work began, its cost estimate was $1 million, but it’s risen to $1.5 million.

“You all authorized the engineering and construction services for the new disinfection building that we’re going to be constructing,” city environmental manager Jonathan Ruff said to the Common Council Thursday evening. “So, that puts the amount that we spent out of this capital project over the prior appropriations, so we need a bit more money in the project for that.”

Most of that extra half-million is an interest-free loan through New York state’s 2017 Water Infrastructure Improvement Act, but there’s also some grant funding from the same source. The council also approved, without any discussion, a $5 million price tag for deodorizing and disinfection work at the sewage plant that began earlier this year.

Another project required the contractor to set aside $20,000 to help pay for any extra work it needed to do that it didn’t expect ahead of time. That now-complete project upgraded the plant’s equipment to condense sewage sludge into liquids and solids so that disposal of the sludge will be easier.

“For this particular contract, we did not need to spend any of that money, so this is actually a deduct change order to deduct the total contract price by $20,000,” Ruff said.

The council members approved that cost reduction. They also informally discussed the possibility of a future outdoor burning ban, partly because of the Lake City’s high population density by North Country standards.

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