Moran seeks Com­mis­sioner of Pub­lic Works seat

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Francine D. Grin­nell fgrin­[email protected]­tu­ry­ @d_­grin­nell on Twit­ter — Dil­lon Moran

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.”


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