by Randy Pellis
FULTON, May 22, 2019 — A state order to fix or demolish a 100-year-old dam forced the Fulton Common Council Tuesday to choose the much less expensive demolition option and say goodbye to a beautiful, century-old pond in a rustic city park.
Sharp’s Pond, on the city’s east side behind Byrne Dairy, was man-made more than 100 years ago for the production of ice in a time before refrigeration. The cement dam that turned the natural stream that runs through that land into the pond it became is cracking, and is, in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s opinion, likely to fail, flooding over Route 3, according to Fulton’s Fifth Ward Common Councilor Dennis Merlino, in whose ward the pond and dam lie.
Fixing the dam would cost $1 million, according to Merlino. Demolishing it will cost $150,000.
A number of councilmen expressed that it was with deep regret they voted to go with the less expensive option. Merlino said he had bought his house 20 years ago to be close to that pond and park.
“We had no options,” Merlino said. “The dam declined year after year. A lot of people are sad to see it go. A lot of people are very vocal that it shouldn’t go. It’s the idea of it that’s hard to let go of, and sometimes that is difficult, and it breaks my heart because I bought my house so I could go there.”
The city will issue bonds to fund the project, and the work will soon go out to bid.
Most of the rest of Tuesday night’s meeting centered on bonding for future projects.
Those projects include:
$65,000 to hire experts to appraise the value of real property in the city for tax purposes;
$350,000 for the purchase of maintenance equipment;
$30,000 for the installation of fencing at the DPW garage;
$1 million for the reconstruction of various roads;
and, $2,405,000 for improvements at the wastewater treatment plant and pump station.
Prior to the meeting, during the public session, mayoral hopeful Ethan Parkhurst spoke in favor of bonding for improvements at the wastewater treatment plant and pump station and for the demolition of the dam at Sharp’s Pond. But, he was not in favor of the remainder of the evening’s bonding as it stood. He recommended public hearings on the remaining $1,445,000 worth of bonding projects.
First Ward Councilman Thomas Kenyon defended those projects. “We’re talking about roads that really need it,” he said of the $1 million road repair project.
Councilman Merlino also defended the projects that were chosen for bonding. “This list that we’re bonding on,” he said, “months and months ago, all through public hearings, we started out with a wish list that was pages long, and we whittled it down, we hammered it out in very heated discussions that went on for months and months and months. And this is what it’s whittled down to as the priorities that we really have come to agreement on. There were so many things taken off the list, and these are the ones we came to, these are the ones we really need.”
All of the evening’s bonding resolutions were passed unanimously.
One final note: the annual Memorial Day Parade will be held Saturday starting on East Broadway at 10 a.m. Lineup is at 9:30 a.m. The parade will cross the upper bridge (Route 3) and end at the War Memorial.