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Eventually, Unity Will Help Grow Greater Oneonta


It wouldn’t be cheaper right now, but the town and city of Oneonta should eventually form a “single entity” to provide municipal water in “the most cost-efficient and cost-effective manner.”

That’s the conclusion of an ad hoc citizens group – former interim school superintendent David Rowley, former DEC commissioner Mike Zagata of Davenport and Roger France, a former state Health Department engineer – who took it upon themselves to delve into the much debated matter.

The resulting report, written by France, has been provided to Mayor Dick Miller and Town Supervisor Bob Wood.
Both Rowley and Zagata are active in Citizen Voices, the pro-business group. France is a neighbor of Rowley’s in West Oneonta.

The issue at hand is the decision of the Town of Oneonta to pursue construction of a water treatment plant at Fortin Park and pipe water to the Southside, rather than to buy surplus water from the city.

“Some people thought this was simply a refusal to cooperate with the city. Certainly, there are reasons to think that’s the case,” said Rowley. “In this case, when you really look at it, it’s is probably the right move initially.”

However, the report states, “future economic development” may change that equation: “Management and operation of all community water service in the Greater Oneonta area by a single entity would provide many advantages due to the economy of scale and elimination of artificial geographic and political boundaries.

“Water service could be provided in the most efficient and cost effective manner,” it continues, “and the best available water sources could be utilized and protected.”

While there are “significant political and public hurdles” to collaboration, state regulations encourage it and financial incentives are available such arrangements.

“All local government officials should consider unified management of water systems a long term goal,” the report concludes.

Looking ahead, a large, single water district for Greater Oneonta could share sizeable costs more widely.
Rowley pointed out that his neighborhood, West Oneonta, which has a sizeable, relatively compact population has neither municipal water or sewerage, and the cost of doing so is almost prohibitive.

Likewise, he said, the Price Chopper Plaza and large stores on the East End of the city have their own water systems, but eventually may need to be replaced.


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