What does a no confidence vote by the Seneca Falls Town Board on Aug. 5 have to do with Seneca County’s longstanding Route 318 sewer expansion project?
While years of failed leadership led the Town Board in Seneca Falls to a no confidence vote, the most recent slate of issues leading up to the Aug. 5 meeting resulted in a series of accusations being leveled at current Seneca County officials.
“This was a decision we made and owned,” Councilman Lou Ferrara said after the meeting. “[Supervisor Lazzaro’s] leadership has been nothing short of disastrous for this town, and we need to do something to get us back on track.”
Ferrara was stripped of his Deputy Supervisor title immediately after the no confidence resolution was introduced. Town Supervisor Greg Lazzaro says the vote and resolution hurt him personally, citing years of what he called “dedication” to Seneca Falls and Seneca County.
Ferrara said the “final straw” came when he was approached by County officials to sign an inter-municipal agreement. That agreement would allow the Route 318 Sewer Corridor to be completed. The Board of Supervisors had heard monthly updates on failed discussions between Town and County officials, engineers, and leaders to put the final agreement to paper.
Months went by and the agreement remained unsigned.
Fast-forward to late July, when County officials again reached out to the Town of Seneca Falls for clarification. “They asked me to sign the agreement, and [Lazzaro] was in Colorado,” Ferrara recounted. “They told me that litigation would be possible if the Town did not sign the agreement because we were the ones holding up the process and completion of that project.”
It’s unclear at this point precisely why the agreement was not signed earlier. Lazzaro contends that language and financial concerns loomed. Others contend that the Kingdom Road Pump Station, which would be partly responsible for moving the waste toward the Town’s Waste Water Treatment Facility could not handle the added load.
As deputy supervisor, Ferrara said he was well-within his rights to sign an agreement or contract in the Supervisor’s absence.
However, the agreement was accepted by Seneca County.
Lazzaro called Ettman’s actions ‘unethical’, but did not cite specific examples of unethical actions - given that the Deputy Supervisor in any community is tasked with acting as ‘Supervisor’ in the absence of that leader.
Fayette Town Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti says that a lot of questions and concerns remain. “We need to know what’s going to happen now that the agreement is in place and the project is complete,” she explained. “We need to know what the truth is about the Seneca Falls’ ability to take on the added waste generated in the new district.”
The Board of Supervisors will hear more about this issue at this week’s regular meeting. It’s unclear what kind of action could be taken, or how the County will respond as a body to Lazzaro’s claims that the County Attorney acted unethically.
The biggest question the County has to weigh moving forward have to do with functionality: Can the sewer district, as created and designed, operate—even if operational deficiencies exist at the pump station and wastewater treatment facility in Seneca Falls, which will be tasked long-term with managing that increased flow? Furthermore, what happens if new customers come to the State Route 318 corridor—as intended, and hoped for by local economic development officials.