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Auburn City Council June 7

The Auburn City Council listens as a resolution is read June 7.  

AUBURN — The city of Auburn will apply for four separate grants to fund water infrastructure and environmental conservation projects. 

Thursday, the Auburn City Council authorized city staff to apply for grants from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to complete the following projects: acquisition of land at the Owasco Flats, engineering services for the separation of the city's sanitary and stormwater collection system and to take inventory of existing city trees and plant new ones. 

The city will apply for the Water Quality Improvement Project grant to aid in the purchase about 100 acres of land at the Owasco Flats in Moravia to continue to protect the source of the city's drinking water. 

In June, city council members said they would like staff to pursue acquiring the land, which is contiguous to land the city already owns at the flats, from the estate of Shirley Jones for $69,500. The land is located at 2680 Rockefeller Road. 

According to the council resolution, "This part of the watershed has been identified as critical to aiding with the filtering and capture of phosphorus from the inlet waters. The potential to expand the Owasco Flats for water quality purposes is an important step towards reducing (harmful algal blooms) in Owasco Lake." 

The city will request $75,000 from the DEC, which requires the municipality to contribute $25,000 to the project as well. The city's contribution will come out of the water fund. 

Since Auburn will not learn until December if it will receive the grant, Director of Municipal Utilities Seth Jensen said the city can use the funding to reimburse itself, since counselors indicated they would like to go forward purchasing the land with or without the grant. 

The city will also apply for a grant to finance engineering costs associated with completing the separation of Auburn's sanitary and stormwater collection system.

According to the council resolution, the city's current wastewater collection system conveys both sanitary sewage and stormwater, and in some areas of the city, the collection system is combined in a single pipe. This is called a combined sewer system.

The city began separating sanitary and stormwater pipes during the 1990s, but some areas were not completed. Additionally, the city operates five combined sewer overflow facilities designed to treat the combined sewers during heavy rainfall. However, the city will likely have to abandon those facilities in anticipation of new federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring the separation of sewage and stormwater.

Auburn will request $30,000. The grant, called the Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant, requires a city match of $6,000, for a total project cost of $36,000. The city's portion will come out of the sewer fund. 

Finally, the council authorized city staff to apply for two Urban and Community Forestry Grants — one to take a "much needed inventory and analysis of the city’s nearly 8,500 street trees" and another to purchase and plant new trees. 

Both grants would be for $50,000. One grant requires a city match of $12,500, which would be taken out of the city's urban forestry operating budget. The city will have two years to spend the money and plant new trees, Superintendent of Engineering Bill Lupien said. 

In other news

• The city will sell less than half an acre of land at 277 Grant Ave. to a Miami-based development corporation for $30,000. 

Frontier Development LLC will purchase the parcel from the city and combine it with another parcel it will purchase from a private property owner, Corporation Counsel Stacy DeForest said. According to DeForest, the parcel is undeveloped and "not suitable for development on its own."

The development company is currently working on a project across the street at the former David's Collision and Body Shop at 271 Grant Ave., to build a Five Star Urgent Care and Aspen Dental complex. DeForest said she doesn't know what the company plans to build across the street but it is not related to the current project. 

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Staff writer Natalie Brophy can be reached at (315)282-2239 or natalie.brophy@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @brophy_natalie

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