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Meeting date on water system upgrades unclear

A scheduled public hearing on the Town of Bethlehem's future water supply options will apparently have to be rescheduled, but no one knows when it will be.

The Town Board had approved a meeting to be held Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m., but it turns out Town Hall was already reserved at this time.

Now, the board must find a new time that everyone can make and is far enough in the future for it to be in the public eye. All members of the board said at a recent meeting public input would be important in making a decision.

It would be irresponsible for us to not properly vet this with the public, said Councilman Kyle Kotary. "This is not something that we have one or two meetings, nobody shows up, and we say, well, nobody's against it."

Adding to the confusion is the fact Supervisor Sam Messina has apparently been out of town since Thursday. He could not be immediately reached by a Spotlight reporter.

The public hearing is to address the town's water infrastructure, which must be modified or updated to meet new federal standards. The options are costly, all involving an nine-figure sum to be spent over the course of the next 13 years, and the cheapest solution involves delivering water from the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant to residential customers.

A plan to do just that was never implemented when the plant was originally built due to a public outcry. The Clapper Road plant draw water from wells near the Hudson River, which raised concerns among some community members as to the quality of the water.

The board had discussed holding the hearing at the next Town Board meeting Wednesday, Sept. 22, but that meeting will already be a lengthy one because it's when Messina will present his preliminary budget to the board. The water system plays an important role in that spending plan.""

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