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UPDATE-Water meeting moved to Sept. 22

After some confusion earlier today, a date has been set for a public meeting on the Town of Bethlehem's water supply issue.

The public will have the chance to see a presentation and comment on various options for the future of the town's water system on the same evening the supervisor presents his preliminary budget, Wednesday, Sept. 22.

The meeting had previously been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 16, but after scheduling conflicts and issues with Town Hall usage came up a new date had to be found. The problem was compounded by the fact Supervisor Sam Messina was out of contact for a period of time, as he is out of town vacationing.

Messina said he had not expected to be out of cell phone coverage, and when he learned of the problem he immediately contacted Town Clerk Nanci Moquin to find another meeting date.

But several Town Board members said they were suprised to find both Messina and Deputy Supervisor John Smolinsky unavailable for a 24-hour period. Councilman Kyle Kotary, for one, criticized the supervisor for not informing the board and expressly identifying someone to be in charge in his stead.

What would happen if we had a major disaster or emergency and the board didn't know we had a supervisor and deputy supervisor who had left town? he said.

Councilman Mark Jordan said he had not been consulted on the change in the meeting date. He and other board members were sent an email about the new date this afternoon.

"There was absolutely no communication with the Town Board, which is par for the course," he said.

Sept. 22 was one of the dates discussed when the meeting was originally scheduled earlier this week.

The town needs to make a decision in the near future on how water supply infrastructure will be upgraded to deal with future demand conditions and federal water standards. Any choice"be it building a new New Scotland Water Treatment Plant, opening up the Clapper Road Water Treatment Plant's output to residential users or renegotiating a contract with the City of Albany to buy water"upgrades will cost the town a nine-figure sum over the next 13 years, according to figures from the town.

The Town Board meets at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

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