BALLSTON SPA – After Mayor John Romano and the Village Board appointed Bill Lewis fire chief Monday, the new chief talked about Saturday’s incident in which a 14-year-old Ballston Spa youth was rescued from the main Saratoga County sewer line.
The Ballston Spa High School Freshman fell into an open manhole on a section of the Zim Smith Trail southeast of Ballston Spa in the town of
Ballston. The section was signed as closed to the public because the Saratoga County Sewer Authority has been doing work there, but three friends were biking on it and the 14-year-old dismounted to look at the manhole, then fell in. His companions called 911.
Lewis said he was the first on the scene and dispatched crews south along the trail, under which the pipe runs, while “multiple agencies responded.” The sewage, including everything from the Ballston Spa system, flows south and then southeast, eventually coming to a treatment plant in Halfmoon on the Hudson River.
The teen-ager was swept under Route 67 and, Lewis said, “got trapped in a vault at a switch point” in the vicinity of Curtis Industrial Park, and was able to hang on there. Sheriff’s Department personnel heard him screaming for help and removed a manhole cover to find him. With the assistance of Ballston Spa firefighters they got him out and into an ambulance, which took him to Saratoga Hospital. He was reportedly released Sunday but returned to the hospital for several hours Monday after being taken ill, and then returned home.
Earlier in the day, Lewis said, firefighters had responded to another emergency in the town of Ballston, a house fire at Route 67 and Brookline Road. He noted that the 120-member department is all volunteer, and is, he said, one of the best in the county if not the state. The crowded meeting room applauded his remarks.
Monday’s meeting was the first attended by Trustees Noah Shaw and Shawn Raymond, the first Democrats to serve on the board in more than 40 years. It was a harmonious occasion, with no divided votes. The Democrats supported the resolution to make the tentative 2017-18 budget the final budget.
However, during public comments, Democratic activist Liz Kormos asked about the fund balance. Romano acknowledged that the $15,000 fund balance is less than the amount recommended by the state comptroller, which he attributed to fiscal pressures the village is dealing with such as expensive state mandates and emergency repairs to aging infrastructure.
Romano said he hopes the village will secure money from a new state infrastructure fund. It also, he said, needs to find ways to spur development and tax revenue, perhaps by changing the zoning code to lower requirements for parking spaces.
Romano also expressed considerable skepticism about the Saratoga Springs proposal for a Geyser Road Trail alongside watershed property owned by the village in Saratoga Springs (the village-owned property there extends into the town of Milton east of Rowland Street). He said the city has provided inadequate and erroneous information on this matter, such as an inaccurate State Environmental Quality Review form which failed to mention a reservoir on the property that is a back-up water supply for the village. Nearby wells in Milton are the main source for the Ballston Spa water system.