Colony Park in the northwest corner of Orchard Park will have decent water pressure this spring, but the 110 homeowners in that water district will have to pay for it.
A second water-line connection should help boost pressure until the Erie County Water Authority can install new pumps to increase the amount of water from its Sturgeon Point facility.
"We will tap a line on Ellis Road and add another meter there," said Supervisor Dennis J. Mill. "That cost was estimated at $35,000 -- half what it would cost to tunnel under Taylor Road -- but with engineering and design work it will cost more than that."
For homeowners such as William Pajerski of 4216 Liberty Drive, an additional $500 on his water bill for the next five years may well be worth it.
"I have zero to five pounds of water pressure in my house," he said at a Town Board meeting earlier this month. "At 6 a.m. when I get up, you can't even flush a toilet."
Pajerski and his neighbors have been suffering from continually lower water pressure, a problem that became serious two years ago. The town began talking with the Erie City Water Authority, which sells water to Orchard Park.
New pumps are needed at Sturgeon Point and at an intermediate site to raise pressures and flow to the Webster Road, New Taylor Road and Liberty Drive area.
The Water Authority suggested a tap-in might be possible via a village water line that ends on Webster Road.
However, the town established its own water district in 1983 because the village has its own pressure and distribution problems due to antiquated and sometimes leaky mains. In addition, village water costs more per gallon.
That was where the matter stood until the election season began. Now it has become an issue in the election contest between Mill, a Republican, and his Democratic opponent, Toni Marinaccio Cudney.
That became apparent the day before the Town Board met for the last time before the election: someone leaked to the press a letter from the Water Authority criticizing Mill's position on the issue and also got Colony Park residents to attend the meeting, complain and demand a quick fix.
Mill insisted -- as he has for the last two years -- that the authority should help pay to correct the pressure problem, since the authority's contract with the town requires an adequate supply for its customers.
Water Commissioner Mark G. Patton read a letter dated the day before the board meeting, calling Mill's position "self-serving" and inaccurate. The letter said the Water Authority cannot legally touch any part of the problem since it is only a bulk supplier of water.
Patton's comments were seized on by Mrs. Cudney who told the Town Board: "These people want a solution, and you are not being responsive to their problems."
The real problem is Orchard Park's growth over the last 15 years. Patton noted that the new "auto alley" along Southwestern Boulevard also is served from the same water lines.
"It all boils down to money," Town Engineer Michael Merritt said. "The water pressure we contracted for has dropped over the last 15 years, so the authority might bear some of the costs to remedy the situation."
Authority engineers admit pressure has dropped an average of five pounds townwide and said new pumps to be installed by the end of 1998 will end sharp fluctuations in pressure. But the pumps won't totally solve the problems in Colony Park.
Last week Orchard Park agreed to go ahead with the extra water-line feed and invited Water Authority officials to join those discussions, but they did not attend, Mill said.
Bids for designing the water-line feed will be sought in early November, with construction authorized shortly thereafter, Mill said.
"Fast-tracking this we could have this designed, approved and under way soon," Merritt said. "I'd say four to six months will see the work completed, since that kind of construction can be done in winter."