Conversation On Hold: Consultant Waiting For Town, City Water Plans

Conversation On Hold: Consultant

Waiting For Town, City Water Plans

By LIBBY CUDMORE • HOMETOWN ONEONTA

Edition of Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

At the GO-DEC meeting on Monday, Dec. 15, Fred Krone invited Town of Oneonta Supervisor Bob Wood and City Hall to talk to him “bright and early” the next morning.

And Krone followed through. “I reached out to Bob Wood the next day,” he said. “We’re meeting Jan. 7, and I’m reaching out to City Hall.”

Krone, the co-founder of Grant & Essential Management Solutions in Utica, or GEMS, was at the meeting to offer his services as the town and the city decide whether to collaborate on providing municipal water to the Southside, home of “big boxes” and Southside Mall.

Or the Town of Oneonta might decide to continue pursuing its own plant in Fortin Park, producing 500,000 gallons a day for Southside Drive, Route 23 and Lantern Hill.

Wood said he has almost $4 million committed on the $8.8 million project – $2.2 million from the state Environmental Facilities Corp., $750,000 from the USDA, and $600,000, just last week, from the latest CFA round, although approval is still needed from landowners in the would-be district.

“Krone thinks he can get us the other four million – but we’d explore every opportunity to target additional funding,” said Wood.

While Krone said he is reaching out to City Hall, it’s unclear where the city stands coming out of the GO-EDC conversations.

City Manager Martin Murphy, who attended, said he has not discussed his ideas with Common Council, so it would be premature to do so publicly. “There’s been no further conversation,” said Mayor Russ Southard. “But we’re always open to meeting.”

In 2013, then-mayor Dick Miller had entered conversations with Wood, and made a detailed proposal at that time that Wood said was too expensive. Lamont Engineering, Cobleskill, developed the town’s Fortin Park plan.

If he can see both proposals, Krone said, he will analyze both to see which has the strongest chance of being granted.

“Right now, there’s more than one solution,” he said. “I want to get my hands on both sets of proposals and evaluate each solution against the other.”

Krone made sure to stress that he cannot guarantee funding. “It’s like scratching a humongous lottery ticket,” he said. “But I can tell the city and the town which proposal will have the highest likelihood of being funded.”

However, based on his own research, Krone thinks it might be better to re-ignite the conversation about merge the city and the town to make the grant more competitive. “When you look at the statistics, it can be argued that the people in the city also work in the town, so those jobs have direct impact on the city,” said Krone. “The greater the geographical area and the impact, the more competitive the grant will be.”

“If there’s a preferred path, I can make it work,” he said. “But working together, as I see it, represents the best foot forward.”