Thursday, 11 January 2018 23:07

Water Woes Unite Malta Community

Malta Pointe residents speak out at the town board meeting on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. Photo by Larry Goodwin. 

MALTA – Lacking steady supplies of water in their homes since New Year’s Eve, a couple dozen residents from a mobile home and apartment community off Route 9 crowded into Malta Town Hall Monday night to demand better responses to the problem.

“We want answers,” concluded one of the first women to speak.

For more than an hour, Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia allowed residents from the Malta Pointe community (also called Malta Gardens) to express their frustrations about faulty water pipes underground that apparently failed during the New Year holiday.

The issue dominated the Malta Town Board’s first official meeting of 2018.  

“This is a cataclysm. This is a water failure,” explained Ron Simoncini, a spokesman for the Solomon Organization, the New Jersey-based firm that manages the community. He was invited to address the residents’ water woes at the Jan. 8 meeting.

Simoncini waited patiently before making his own comments and answering questions from the people of Malta Pointe. He assured them that finding prompt solutions is a “corporate priority” at Solomon.

“We want this fixed as fast as humanly possible,” Simoncini said. “There is no budget for this. We’re spending what it takes.”

Residents expressed anger mainly about an ongoing lack of water or water pressure in their kitchens and bathrooms, complicating their basic daily activities; as well as difficulties many have experienced in communicating with Solomon officials.

One woman simply displayed a small glass jar filled with cloudy water, saying it looked so questionable even after being boiled.

“We can’t create the water. We don’t have a municipal water supply,” DeLucia told the affected residents.

DeLucia also made a point of telling Simoncini that many Malta Pointe residents had contacted town hall, noting how the individuals at the back of the meeting room Monday were “a small representation” of those with water problems.   

After Councilman Timothy Dunn had scrolled through a computer file and reviewed the original planning documents for Malta Pointe, he noted how Solomon is required by specific town code to provide adequate water supplies to the residents.     

The Malta Code Enforcement Office issued at least one notice of violation to the firm.

Simoncini acknowledged repeatedly that Solomon officials intend to comply with the legal requirements within 14 days. He added that more than a dozen people met this week on site to discuss the issue, including staff members of the New York State Department of Health (DOH).

Jill Montag, a DOH spokeswoman, confirmed in an emailed statement that a meeting occurred Tuesday regarding “long-term steps to address the water system’s ability to keep up with water demand.”

Montag indicated that DOH officials are working with Solomon “to have them develop additional source water either on site or by connecting to a neighboring water system.”

She added: “The Department will continue to work with Malta Gardens and take all necessary steps to ensure that this issue is resolved.”

“I have high-quality water” with pressure exceeding 70 pounds per square inch, offered Marissa Mackay, owner of Saratoga Water Services, a company that has supplied developments in that part of Malta with water for decades.

Mackay attended the meeting Monday and stated that her goal is not to promote her business, but “to make sure that people are taken care of” in the community.

She said Saratoga Water Services already has suitable pipes installed underneath a fire hydrant located off Knabner Road, which is the main drive to the businesses, apartment complexes and mobile homes in Malta Pointe.

Mackay offered Simoncini her company’s contact information and urged him to discuss a possible connection of pipes. “If you’re going to be chasing water-main breaks, I think it makes sense,” she said.

Simoncini did not return a follow-up call for comment.

Installing commercial water pipes generally costs $100 per foot, Mackay explained, adding that many “technicalities” make even a rough estimate difficult for the actual needs in Malta Pointe.  

The total cost to Solomon, Mackay said, would be “less than developing two new wells.”  

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