PUBLIC WORKS POST
Moran seeks Commissioner of Public Works seat
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> The following conversation with Dillon Moran, Democratic candidate for the office of Commissioner of the Department of Public Works, touches on his background and qualifications for the many complex aspects of the position, including:
• The oversight of street and highway maintenance including snowplowing, leaf pickup and sanding and salting
• The maintenance and beautification of the City’s Buildings and Grounds
• The maintenance and inventory of the City’s infrastructure
• The administration of water and sewer billing
• The maintenance and use of Congress Park
• The use and rental of the Carousel, the Casino and other City facilities
• The oversight of the City Engineer office
• The duties of the Commissioner of Public Works position entails:
• Ensuring that the City water system provides sufficient quantities of safe potable water.
• Ensuring that the City’s storm water system is adequate for runoff without flooding, and that the sewage disposal system provides sufficient capacity.
• Management of controls and maintenance of the water supply treatment and distribution system, sanitary sewage disposal system and stormwater carrier system throughout the City.
• The recommendation
"I’m a first-generation American. My father emmigrated from Ireland, and his family settled here in Jefferson Terrace in the very small house I grew up in. I lived in an apartment until I was twelve years old. We came from not a lot, but we learned to make our way."
of water and sewer rates for City Council approval. Utility bills are printed and mailed by the Department of Public Works Utility Department.
• The potential requirement that property owners be responsible for removal of snow and ice from and repairs to the public sidewalks and curbs in the front of their property.
• Maintenance, operation, and repair of Cityowned lands and facilities except for those specifically vested with the Commissioner of Public Safety.
• The Commissioner of Public Works with Council approval sets the policy and rates for the rental of City property.
Moran is a 1992 graduate of Clarkson University, having earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He has an extensive background in corporate sales and business development, including positions in recent years as Senior Business Development Manager at Sol en is Industrial Water Division, with Nalco, a water treatment and processing firm; as Senior Account Manager, with HydraPAC, as a sales engineer, and as Business Development Manager for Aquatic Development
For those who may not be familiar with you, please tell the readers about yourself, and your background. What made you want to vie for this position?
“I was born and raised in Saratoga Springs. I’ve lived here my whole life. I own the house we’re sitting in, and I’m an investor in a very successful local business.”
What business is that? “Druthers. I’m one of the minority investors in Druther’s.
“My brother owns Comfort Kitchen, so my family is deeply invested in this community.
“I’m a first-generation American. My father emmigrated from Ireland and his family settled here in Jefferson Terrace in the very small house I grew up in. I lived in an apartment until I was twelve years old. We came from not a lot, but we learned to make our way.
“For instance, when I graduated from college with my chemical engineering degree, my mother graduated from med school at that same time. So we’re workers. We’re people who have grown up and lived in a union environment.
“My father was a member of the steamfitters union down at GE building 273. He was the shop steward. He went Union College during the day and worked in the factory at night. He ultimately advanced through the company and retired as a senior vice president at Siemen Westinghouse.
“My mother was a member off the nurse’s union at Saratoga Hospital. Her father was Charles Collins who help form what is today the Chamber of Commerce. On her side, we go back several generations. On my father’s side, obviously, we’re newcomers. I was born in 1970. I grew up. I understand what the City is like; where we’ve been and where we’ve come to.
“Although we understand demographically that more than half our citizens came here after 1999. I think it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the progress we’ve made but also understand that things have gotten out of balance.”
What is your source on that?
“I’m not sure, but I follow demographic trendsmaybe it was Chamber of Commerce statistics from the County and the State, that’s a legitimate well recognized number. Board of Elections, perhaps.”
More than half came after 1999.
“Correct.Whether it be through the new housing stock moving into there, folks passing on, new people moving into the community, we have things like Global Foundries bringing a diverse and well educated new group of people to our county, a lot choosing to settle in Saratoga Springs. We have a disproportionately higher educated electorate than most cities. More folks have attended college than most places, so we’re smart. “We understand things. “I, as a professional, in buying my house, there are things that I see personally as a professional cause and have caused me a great deal of concern.”
Such as? “Failing infrastructure, being aware of the State forcing our City to make investment in our infrastructure when the State, which is very slow to movewhen the State has to tell the Commissioner of Public Works to do his job, it means he’s not doing his job. And I can name a number of projects.
“When the Commissioner cites $10 million worth of investment, I’m currently getting the information from the Department of Health, I would fashion that probably 80 percent of that money that he’s invested.”
When you say “he,” are you referring to Commissioner Scirocco? “Correct.”
“I’ll reiterate that we are going to keep this as civil as possible, right?
“Absolutely. But the reality is, it’s not an investment if you’re forced to do it. if you’re forced by the Department of Health by the State of New York, you are derelict in your duty; you are not ‘investing.’”
••• Again, what specifically is your source?
“Department of Health, public record access. I have a foil request in for all of those. I can name the projects. Right now the State is forcing us to fix that dam. It’s failing.”
The Loughberry Lake Dam?
“The Department of Transportation is concerned that if it fails, it will take out the Northway. He’s been in office 12 years; why wasn’t this addressed earlier? It doesn’t fail overnight. If that dam fails, it will take out the entire area of the Spring Run Trail, where Eddy’s Beverage Inc. is will be under 16 feet of water. That whole lower lying area.”
Do you have documentation on that?
“In my possession? No; my team does.”
Is that something you can provide to me?
“I’ll have to ask them about that. I’m not going to make any statements out in the public that aren’t factual or true.
“I didn’t answer your question. Why do I want to run?
“As a first generation American, I was idealist about what America means and what opportunity means. I didn’t grow up with a lot. Everything I’ve had in life I had to work hard for and fight for. At the same time, I’ve been very successful and very fortunate. “I’ve had opportunities that would not have occurred in my parent’s home country. That education has facilitated the career that I have, along obviously, with myself.
“I have done very well financially and I’ve gotten to a point in my career both financially and time wise that I know I can take this challenge on and I know I can do the job. Nobody has ever had the qualifications I do to run this department and implement change, because change is sorely needed.
“Since I was six years old, I’ve felt a burning need to be in politics and to giveback to the community.”
There are many aspects to this position; it’s not just water and roads. Part of is oversight of street and highway maintenance. You’ve referenced it obliquely by talking about the Northway and the water system.
“There’s 143 miles of road, about 153 miles of sub grade potable water infrastructure; in terms of storm sewer, our systems are incomplete. We need to do asset management of city properties, structures processes, and assign value to them. It could be a truck, a water system and check for maintenance frequency We don’t do any of this.”
The City has in place systems for tracking road and systems maintenance from City vehicles and for the vehicles themselves.
“Very, very rudimentary at this point. We combine those factors and it gives us a prioritization list. We are barely scratching the surface. We have a $12 million department with 140 employees that we manage with a paper system We don’t track time against task.”
That system can now do that.
“They haven’t done, they’re not doing it in 12 years.”
I have seen the trucks, the software and what they can monitor.
“But again, we’re here now. It’s 2019. Businesses have been doing that since the ‘80’s. The Commissioner talks about improvement; if you’re not measuring anything, you don’t know where you are going to.
“Before we get off the topic of water, this shared services concept that I’m responsible for runs into Wilton, Ballston Spa, Greenfield. At some point, we’re going to recognize we all have shared interests. There are likely more cost “effective ways for us to provide services, ambulatory, or first responding EMS.
“We all go to the same schools but we’re in different municipalities, different police and fire. We ought to start realizing there’s a benefit in working together. Saratoga Springs has long been known for having antagonistic relationships with surrounding neighbors.
“I’m not happy about that; they’re our neighbors. They shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants. We have a lot of investment needed for our infrastructure and that money’s got to come from someplace. We need to start working on that now or pay a much higher bill down the road.
“I have personal relationships with an assembly woman, personal relationships with our Congressman (Tonko). The person I’m running against does not. He’s one of three engineers in Congress and he and I hit it off. We’re on a first name basis. We have common expectations about where government fits in.
“There are certain things the government does better: provision of water, roads, police and fire, our military. Those are all things we recognize as individuals we can’t do. As such, he and I understand the responsibility the federal, state and local governments have.
“My first term in office, we are going to be collecting and measuring that data for the future. We don’t have that now.”
••• Reporter’s follow-up on status of Loughberry Lake Dam:
As the major source of the Saratoga Springs potable water supply, it seemed essential to provide results of extensive fact-checking as well as an update on the current status of the rehabilitation of the Loughberry Lake Dam, currently being performed by a Clifton Park engineering firm, that has qualified experts on the project and is in a position to provide the current status.
The dam is owned by Saratoga Springs, and the state is responsible for Route 50, which passes over the Adirondack Northway. Attempts to contact the New York State Department of Transportation were referred back to the City and the engineering firm referenced.
In a conversation with the firm’s principal and engineer in charge of the project since 2014-15, questions were asked regarding the current status to date and what if any potential risk exists that the dam would fail. This is the statement in response of that engineer, who preferred not to be identified:
“Any dam can fail. We are putting together a plan addressing intake pipes upstream. Such a failure is highly unlikely here. Through detailed engineering modeling in conjunction with NYS Dam Safety, part of the NYS Department of Conservation, the project has been brought into compliance with state regulations for dam safety passed in 2009, specifically NYS NYCRR Part 673.
“The City of Saratoga Springs has elected to design the dam to protect to a higher standard; the City proactively chose to change the level of hazard.
“A lot of work has been done; each step gets closer to a final solution. Although unlikely, we have completed an Emergency Action Plan to mitigate damage if the dam did fail. The area around Spring Run could potentially flood in a worst case scenario, but not the Northway.
“There is a flow chart of response contact in place, including City engineers and the NYS Dam Safety team. We are working through the details; all the required steps are being taken.
“We have a contract to complete the design of the rehabilitation of the whole dam. We have delivered up to the 60 percent stage to the City; it is clear what will be built. Anticipated construction will begin in 2022, because this is a $6-7 million dollar project and Capital Funds are being set aside to go to the first phase.”
A source at the City of Saratoga Springs Department of Public Works added:
“The project is shovel ready and will most likely be scheduled for the Spring. Funds have been allocated in the 2020 Budget, which won’t become available until Jan. 1, 2020. The city is also applying for grant monies, as well as other grant funds becoming available.”
Dillon Moran: “I was born and raised in Saratoga Springs. I’ve lived here my whole life. I own the house we’re sitting in, and I’m an investor in a very successful local business.”