Liuzzo Misses The Point On Water Agreement Impasse

Andrew Liuzzo made headlines on Monday — and, at the same time, missed the entire point of the water agreement impasse between the city and town of Ellicott.

Liuzzo had received a packet of information from Patrick McLaughlin, Ellicott town supervisor, and had questions. So, during Monday’s City Council work session, Liuzzo began firing questions at Teresi, seizing on what he perceived as a lack of transparency from Mayor Sam Teresi and city officials to make his point that Jamestown needs to do a better job of getting along with its neighbors.

It’s hard to say the discussions over the water service agreement between the city and Ellicott haven’t been transparent. The Post-Journal has reported and editorialized on them periodically, including the last iteration of the contract that was pulled from consideration by the BPU board.

And, while we would love to see the old Metro 6 group of Jamestown, Ellicott, Falconer, Celoron, Busti and Lakewood meet on a regular basis, the water service impasse isn’t really about being nice to one’s neighbors either.

You see, while Liuzzo was in the middle of a testy City Council meeting, McLaughlin was discussing the water service negotiations with the Ellicott Town Board. It is important for Ellicott, if it wants to grow, to secure water service outside of the Jamestown city limits on Fluvanna Avenue. Fluvanna Avenue has been a priority for McLaughlin since he was elected. It is an area ripe for development in an underdeveloped exit off of Interstate 86. Growing Ellicott’s land on Fluvanna Avenue could grow the town’s tax base and capitalize on some of the developments happening inside the city.

To that end, McLaughlin and the town have agreed to pay much higher water rates than they did in the prior agreement in hopes of securing the necessary water infrastructure to better develop Fluvanna Avenue. Ellicott officials and BPU officials were close to an agreement before it was pulled from consideration before a BPU meeting in April.

“I’m willing to go back,” said Town Supervisor Patrick McLaughlin, who expressed his interest in going back to the table. “We are done making concessions. We have given up a lot to get that water to Fluvanna Avenue.”

McLaughlin has been clear in his intentions to develop Fluvanna Avenue and is working hard to make it happen. One certainly can’t fault him for working hard for his constituents to create an atmosphere for the town to grow. Conversely, one can’t fault Teresi and city negotiators for trying to avoid the sort of short-term decision making that has handcuffed the city for the past three decades.

The decision city officials have to make is how much they want to help Ellicott develop Fluvanna Avenue. While the Board of Public Utilities would gain customers and likely help the Water Division’s budget, we’re sure the city sees developing the Strunk Road interchange with I-86 will bring new development to Ellicott — development the city would like to see happen within the city limits.