Cassadaga Officials Discuss Water Breaks, Silent On Red House

The Cassadaga Village Board listens as Public Works Superintendent Sam Alaimo speaks about the series of water leaks that occurred in Cassadaga over the past two weeks. Photo by J.M. Lesinski

CASSADAGA — The injunction issued to Red House in Cassadaga may be on the minds of many, but information on the situation is proving much harder to come by. At the regular meeting of the Cassadaga Village Board on Wednesday, the very name “Red House” wasn’t uttered even once, though the owners of the property and ZBA President Tom Beichner were all present at the meeting.

Beichner introduced himself, then stated his purpose for being at the meeting.

“I’m here for a copy of the judge’s ruling for our ZBA, which I haven’t seen yet,” Beichner said. An ambiguous letter was also sent to the board, though it’s contents were deemed, “unneeded to be discussed at this time,” Mayor Mary Jo Bauer said.

It could be speculated that Red House was discussed during the board’s private executive session, following the conclusion of the regular board meeting. During his comments, Village Attorney Joe Calimeri did provide somewhat of an update.

“Nothing new to report, we did go to court on behalf of the ZBA with respect to the article 78 filed,” Calimeri said. “I don’t want to speak in too much depth about that in open session, just because we do not have a final court order yet. It’s still currently pending, until such time that I think it would be prudent and justified to reserve our comments on that until executive session.”

From there, attention shifted to another pressing matter regarding a series of water breaks the village experienced.

“I guess to start it all, we found a water leak at a lakeside cottage that is vacant this time of year,” Public Works Superintendent Sam Alaimo said. “The case there is (that) the water was turned on in 2010, as far as I can tell, and we’ve been fine. They turn it off inside their meter pit to go to their cabin, nothing freezes. Well, now our meter froze, and there was no snow left in the whole well or around the house running into the lake.”

Alaimo went on to note how much water was lost from that incident. “Possibly could be 300,000 gallons of water we’ve lost,” Alaimo stated. “I’ve been watching water usage go up and up. … I never went over 100,000 gallons but three times over the summer, and since January 19 I’ve been over 100,000 just about every day, so I’m up 30,000 gallons in 10 days; that’s 300,000 gallons.”

The currently vacant cottage was in questionable condition when Alaimo addressed the issue at hand.

“I shoveled off the deck, I opened the access cover up, the thing is wide open, the cover isn’t even shut,” Alaimo said. “They’re right on the edge of the lake. There’s no snow, the wind is blowing 10 below zero, and it freezes our water line and we lose our water, so we don’t know how much water we lost because it wasn’t metered. So yeah, it was convenient to build it that way, but really the meter pit should be at the street at the curb box, so that if it does happen it’s on their dime, moreso than ours. It should be mandatory that it’s to be shut off if it’s going to be vacated for the winter.”

Alaimo continued his report, noting a possible connection with the water break on Route 60 Monday.

“We repaired that (the cottage leak), and everything seemed normal for a little while until Monday morning, then we got Route 60 where the water broke,” Alaimo said. “That being a state road, we needed traffic control and all that good jazz with our one day of nice weather in between, so I elected to do what we did, calling the correct people to get it done in a matter of hours.”

The origin of the breaks also came into question, following Alaimo’s initial observations.

“After that, I thought everything was good that night,” Alaimo said. “We maintained water pressure all day, it could’ve been a catastrophe if we went below a certain threshold. We could’ve been snapping pipes everywhere, could’ve been on a boil water warning for a long time. I climbed up on the water tower and looked in the tank, and I saw that we had a foot of ice in there.”

Alaimo commented that the ice in the water tower may have played a role in the events that transpired. “I think at one point (the ice) was frozen to the walls, the water went down the vent, makes a vacuum,” Alaimo said. “That thing probably slammed down, could be what broke the pipe on 60, maybe it was just frozen, but at the same time, Tuesday we made water all around the clock, Well five didn’t shut off for three days straight.”

In the wake of what happened, the totals including the gallons lost at the vacant cottage, were higher than expected. “Finally, (Tuesday) we … got the water pressure back to normal,” Alaimo said. “So I mean over this whole event, I’m gonna say that between 600,000 to 750,000 gallons of water we probably have lost in the last two weeks.”

With that number in mind, Alaimo suggested that the village look over the laws and standards currently in place to prevent any further significant leakage from occurring again. “I think we just need to look over those laws and see if we can get a role call of places like that (the cottage),” Alaimo commented. “There’s nobody there, no trash going to it. Part of it, you know, you’re not going to make the ice not form in the tank if that’s what broke (Route 60), but the meter pit … that’s why the meter pit really should be at the road, where the curb box is.”

The meeting concluded with the board’s approval of an application for a Tree City USA Arbor Day grant. “The Arbor Day grant is for $1,000 for trees,” said Village Clerk Roxanne Astry. “And we have to have an Arbor Day celebration or proclamation.”

The next Cassadaga Village Board meeting will be Feb. 20 at 7 p.m.