The city of Johnstown continues to drown in water problems, and they’re dragging the rest of the county down with it.
Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead recently said the proposed interconnections between water systems in Gloversville and Johnstown appear to be dead despite the county’s attempts to spur the connection to help further economic growth. Johnstown prohibits fluoride in its water and Gloversville has fluoride.
The Johnstown City Water Board on April 10 passed a motion to authorize water department clerk Barbara Koehler to advise Fulton County that the city of Johnstown administration, under new mayor Vern Jackson, does not intend to proceed with what it called an “intercity connection” project.
Johnstown Water Board President Nicholas Cannizzo Sr. and former Vice President John Pradelski just recently resigned.
Meanwhile, Jackson has not indicated any interest in renegotiating the water deal the city once made to supply an additional 40,000 gallons of water per day to Fulton- Montgomery Community College for its planned Global Village project.
In 2016 interim Mayor Cindy Lakata rescinded the water deal, which had originally been signed by then-Mayor Michael Julius.
Finally, it remains to be seen whether Johnstown’s water system has enough capacity to supply the proposed Regional Business Park, which would be built on approximately 260 acres annexed into the city of Johnstown from the town of Mohawk on Route 30A. Johnstown and Mohawk have resumed discussions about a possible tax-revenue sharing deal, without which Mohawk will continue to fight the annexation of the land.
Although it seems likely the land will eventually be annexed — the land owners want it to happen and the court system favors projects with a public benefit — it is still unknown whether the city of Johnstown will have the water capacity to support the project.
All of this adds up to a substantial slate of problems for Vern Jackson, the Johnstown Common Council and the Johnstown Water Board. Jackson and the council should act swiftly to appoint new members to the water board, put an end to the friction between the city and its independently-controlled water department and charter a clear path forward. The city should decide if it wants to promote growth by allowing water connections with Gloversville and it should stop hiding behind fluoride as an excuse for not connecting the systems.
The city of Johnstown historically has always looked first and foremost to jealously guarding its Route 30A sales tax revenues, which have enabled it to maintain full-sized police and fire departments, despite having half the population of Gloversville.
Johnstown should be looking for ways to consolidate services and help quench the public’s thirst for economic growth, or simply admit its interest in maintaining the status quo.