Dear Guilderland residents:
In its daily update today, the Albany County Department of Health (DOH) reported that there are now 424 confirmed cases with 36 persons hospitalized and 14 adults in the intensive care unit (ICU). The County's death toll remains at 12. There are now 498 persons under mandatory quarantine and 66 persons in precautionary quarantine.
In his daily press conference, Governor Cuomo reported that hospitalization rates and ICU admissions related to COVID-19 continue to decline both State-wide and Upstate, and that the death rate, a lagging indicator in measuring the spread of the virus, has stabilized at a staggering level and devastating loss of life. The Governor emphasized that our continued successful fight against this pandemic is dependent upon keeping a minimum six-foot separation from each other; regular washing of hands with soap for at least 20 seconds; coughing and sneezing in the inside of your elbow; disinfecting of surfaces; and wearing a cloth face cover when out in public. Here’s a helpful link about cloth face covers: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html.
This blustery weekend is another good reason to see what is offered online 24 hours every day at the Guilderland Public Library (https://guilderlandlibrary.org/). Don’t let the continued closing of the Library building stop you from exploring wonderful choices of downloadable movies, TV shows, how-to-guides, e-books, audiobooks, The New York Times, magazines, Healthy at Home resources, and much more. You just need a library card which you can get online here: https://sierra.uhls.org/selfreg. With that card, you’ll have access to the Library’s online resources and all 29 libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System (https://www.uhls.org/).
My tour of Town departments focuses today on the “essential services” provided by the Water and Wastewater Department under the leadership of Superintendent Timothy McIntyre and Assistant Superintendent William Bremigen. Because of mandated physical separation, the Department now has one-third of its employees working each day. This reduced staff operates the water filtration and wastewater facility, performs seasonal flushing of water mains to remove built-up sediment, and responds to emergency water breaks and sewer backups. I thank these workers for serving the community.
I am pleased to report that this health crisis has not halted the Town’s progress on the new water interconnection between Guilderland and Rotterdam. With the pump house’s construction completed, the connection should be active next month after final pressure tests and installing telemetry for communicating with the filtration plant. The new connection allows the Town to purchase 45 million gallons of water per year from Rotterdam. Because this is aquifer water, it does not require expensive treatment at the filtration plant and will reduce the use of chemicals for treating algae and other organic material found in surface water at the Watervliet Reservoir.
This project, which also extended water line to homes with failing wells on State Route 158, refurbished the Fort Hunter Water Tower, and looped the system, cost $3,475,371 of which 60% or $2,085,223 was covered by a State grant with the balance paid from Water reserves. Sorry if there’s too much detail, but I want to continue sharing news that the pandemic has not prevented the Town from completing projects for the long-term benefit of residents.
The Governor’s Executive Orders bar non-essential construction activities with significant exceptions including work on roads and bridges. NYS Thruway has reported that its replacement of the Old State Road bridge over the Thruway started on time and remains on pace for a November conclusion. I also received NYS DOT’s letter advising the Mayor of Albany and me about its rehabilitation of the Washington Avenue bridge over Fuller Road in the City of Albany. This informative letter stated that the work would start on Monday, with at least one lane open at all times, and maybe as another harbinger of a return to normalcy, it assured that there would be no lane closures during morning and afternoon peak travel periods. What impressed me even more was the care shown by DOT in copying the letter to 28 first responder agencies and transportation officials. It is yet another example of how public servants have continued to perform essential services during stressful times.
Thank you for continuing to stay safe and calm.
Peter G. Barber