In the Daily Freeman’s Thursday article “Kingston panel, if formed, would field public’s infrastructure concerns“, Mayor Shayne Gallo proposes a committee of our lawmakers to define and address some of the infrastructure problems that affect residents and visitors of our city.
This seems to be an excellent opportunity for the Kingston Common Council to add value to their already important work. We have an aging infrastructure that is badly in need of attention, and residents need to know what’s going on with the essential systems that support our everyday life.
One problem here is that sewers, buried cable, the undersides of bridges, and road beds are invisible until they fail, so it’s hard to know where to pay attention until a catastrophic failure happens. We don’t have to go very deep into the past to find examples; the Twaalfskill at Gilead and Wilbur, the sinkhole on Washington between Linderman and Donovan place, and shutting gas off to a third of the city on a cold winter night. Others, like the recently de-certified berm behind the Kinston Plaza, are coming, and maybe this committee can play a crucial role in getting the jump on those.
When I told Ward 2′s Thomas Hoffay that I was considering a run for Alderman in the 3rd Ward, he told me to always remember that the Common Council is a co-equal partner in government with the Mayor’s office. Wise words, Mr. Hoffay, and advice I take to heart.
Some will see this as adding another layer of government between problems and solutions, but I see it as an opportunity to use the vital resources of people already intimately involved with the problems that affect the neighborhood. Take advantage of the Aldermen communicating between City hall and the residents of the wards. Put to use the warnings of people that “smell that awful smell”, or notice that 3 or 4 of the street lights are out, even though they’ve already called Central Hudson.
Of course, the question of paying for it remains a tough one. As my old news editor used to say, “Sewers ain’t sexy, but you gotta have ‘em.” How do we cover our needs without raising our taxes? Well, the DEC, seems to make funds available for emergency fixes. Maybe they have ready money for prevention. It’s only one thought, but I am sure that prevention costs are less than the cure.
This panel has the potential to reach out to neighbors after the initial problem is fixed. Under standards set by the Common Council, City agencies can help the people nearby put their homes, land, and lives back in order. This could help solve some liability issues, avoiding some of the lawsuits that often come along as a result. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but only if we use the ounce. This committee’s job would be to identify the ounces and the pounds.
Since logging the above, Alderman-at-Large James Noble has announced a three member subcommittee to address the issues noted. Appearing in today’s Daily Freeman, “Kingston panel to focus on infrastructure” outlines Alderman Noble’s plan to move forward with this important work. Well done.